UB’s GRoW Home takes 2nd in U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon

UB GRoW Home with team members.

The UB GRoW (Garden, Relax or Work) Home has received second place in the U.S. Department of Energy's 2015 Solar Decathlon.

Release Date: October 17, 2015 This content is archived.

“The competition was incredibly intense. We finished top five in every contest. For that to happen, every member of the team had to pull their weight and had to do their best, and they did.”
Chris Osterhoudt, project manager, GRoW Home
University at Buffalo

IRVINE, CALIFORNIA – Countless hours of designing, building, fine-tuning and fundraising over the past two and a half years have paid off for the more than 200 University at Buffalo students and faculty members who worked on the GRoW (Garden, Relax or Work) Home.

Their super-efficient solar-powered masterpiece placed second overall in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon. The final results were tabulated Saturday morning and the top three overall place finishers were announced during a ceremony inside a former military hangar in Orange County Great Park, where the 10-day competition has taken place.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled and prouder of the team. Watching them elevate their level of performance with every new milestone that we got to, they just rose to every challenge that they met, said Martha Bohm, GRoW Home faculty advisor and assistant professor of architecture in UB’s School of Architecture and Planning.

The UB team finished with 941.191 points out of a possible 1,000. Stevens Institute of Technology, hailing from Hoboken, New Jersey, took first place with 950.685. Stevens’ Hurricane Sandy-inspired SURE House was designed to be ultra efficient while still capable of supplying power during an emergency. California State Polytechnic University placed third with 910 points.

“To finish second is an incredible testament to the teamwork everyone on the project has put into this house over the last two and a half years,” said Chris Osterhoudt, project manager and a 2015 master’s in architecture graduate from UB’s School of Architecture and Planning.

“The competition was incredibly intense,” Osterhoudt added. “We finished top five in every contest. For that to happen, every member of the team had to pull their weight and had to do their best, and they did.” UB’s GRoW Home placed third in Communications (announced on Friday), one of five juried competitions held as part of the 10-category event.

“It’s an incredible compliment to the quality of the student base that produced it, the quality of the faculty that managed it and to the tremendous support we’ve received from our sponsors, both in the Buffalo Niagara region and around the world,” said Robert Shibley, dean of UB’s School of Architecture and Planning. “It’s extremely gratifying to see everyone pull together for such a terrific project.”

Of the non-juried, measured contest categories, UB’s GRoW Home fared best in Comfort Zone (first place with 95.719 out of 100 points), Commuting (tied for first with 100), Energy Balance (tied for first with 100) and Appliances (second with 99.523).

Seeing how the GRoW Home has performed once it was actually up and running has been one of the most rewarding aspects of the Solar Decathlon, according to Bohm.

“We were all able to visualize the design as it emerged over the past two years and we’ve fallen in love with that, but to see the house exceed our expectations in performance once we actually set it up and started running it was phenomenal.

“We did exceptionally well in the core challenge of this competition, which is making a beautiful piece of architecture perform very well.”

There isn’t much time for celebrating, however, as all 14 homes in the Solar Decathlon village will remain open for public tours today and Sunday. The GRoW Home team will then begin disassembling the house to ship it back to Buffalo.

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