After a frantic 15-day build stage, the Solar Decathlon Middle East 2018 competition has moved into its final stage, with competing teams opening their houses for public tours.
The Solar Decathlon is the world’s largest international engineering and architectural competition for collegiate institutions, held once every two years. It challenges teams to design, construct and operate solar-powered houses that are sustainable, stylish and cost effective.This year it is being held in Dubai, and features teams from around the world, each designing and building an affordable net-zero energy, solar-powered house.
Among the teams is one Australian entry: Team Desert Rose from the University of Wollongong. HVAC&R News spoke to Operations Manager Emily Ryan as the team prepared for the open house.
How did the build go overall?
It went very well. Our team knew the tasks they needed to do and worked together to complete everything to schedule. We completed everything on time and were the first team to complete all our competition and exhibition sign-offs, which gave us 10 bonus points.
The Desert Rose came together as expected, which is due in a large part to our practice in Australia at the Innovation Campus. We were super organised onsite with our own toolshed set up and a large shade cover. This provided a place to rest but also meant we could proceed with construction easily. Other teams often came to us to borrow tools, which showed how prepared we were.
What were the biggest challenges you faced during the build?
We had a few issues with logistics. Working on such a big site with many teams needing container delivery meant we had to wait at times for our containers, which slowed us up. We ended up working out a system to just completely unpack the containers and call for a pickup and new container early so that we could continue working right through.
We also struggled a few times in sourcing materials, but found a few good places where we could get most of the goods we needed. As to be expected, the hot humid conditions were difficult to work in but we set up our rest area with fans which gave us the chance to cool down before getting back into it.
Have you done much stickybeaking at the other teams’ houses, and how are you feeling about your chances in general?
Personally, I haven’t yet been in any other houses but many of our team members have and they think we have a really good chance. Everyone is impressed by how much the Desert Rose feels like a home, not just an exhibition piece. They’re also impressed by how complete our house is, as many other teams are still working to finish theirs. From the outside, there are many different styles of houses – everyone has taken a unique approach, which is cool to see. We have lots of support and will continue to work our hardest to impress the judges.
Is there anything that people in Australia can do to support the team?
Communications is one of the 10 competition areas so it’s super important we are active in our online presence. If people in Australia can follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter that would be excellent. Like our posts, check out our videos on our website, on Youtube and on Facebook.