The Solar Decathlon is an international competition that focuses on sustainable solar houses to promote the use of solar energy. Teams come from universities from all over the globe to design, build and operate a grid-connected, energetically self-sufficient house
The Middle-Eastern variant of the competition, Solar Decathlon Middle East (SDME), is established in a collaboration between Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) and the Department of Energy of the United States of America and will be held in 2018 in Dubai.
“For the first time ever, a team from Pakistan has also been selected to take part in this competition.”
Meet Team BGreen
Team BGreen is a multidisciplinary team from National University of Sciences & Technology (NUST), Islamabad, Pakistan. It is composed of 20 student members and 5 faculty members belonging to diverse educational backgrounds of engineering, architecture, business and management.
Led by project Manager, Muhammad Saad, final year Civil Engineering student, the team is managed and operated completely by students. The project was first taken up by the undergraduate students of Civil Engineering and Architecture, who prepared a proposal for the competition under the guidance of Dr. M. Jamaluddin Thaheem — a PhD holder in Construction Risk Management from, Politecnico di Torino, Italy. He currently serves as the Head of Department and Assistant Professor of Construction Engineering and Management at NUST.
“The team shares a common interest in promoting sustainable construction practices and lifestyle at a juncture in global history when the human impact on the planet is the cause of wide-scale climate change which unless properly dealt with could be of severe consequences,” says Hammad Rashid, Communications Coordinator at BGreen. “The project will not only promote sustainable construction practices but also exhibit Pakistan’s academic progress and prowess.”
Their goal is to design and develop an energy-efficient house entirely based on solar energy in the desert area of UAE. Along with ensuring environmental concerns, they also need to ensure the standards of modern urban living.
The competition requires that the house should be able to maintain a certain temperature range, to provide lighting, to run appliances, and much more. As far as energy production is concerned, the electricity should be generated using photovoltaic (solar electric) systems while space heating and cooling and water heating should be done using solar thermal systems.
“If the production of the material is eliminated, the house will have zero environmental impact due to reliance on renewable energy.”
Some of the modern methods of construction BGreen is going to use to build their energy efficient house include Integrated Project Delivery, Fabricated Panels, Green Roof, Wastewater conservation and Smart Home Systems.
Solar Decathlon Middle East
Solar Decathlon Middle East (SDME) has a goal of developing and promoting ideas, capacities and technologies that can be implemented for the benefit of the inhabitants of the Middle East region. A total of 22 teams from 16 countries will be taking part in SDME 2018.
The competition spans two years, from selection to the final event between October and November, 2018. It consists of three phases,
Once the teams are shortlisted, they must finalize details regarding the complete layout of the house such as architectural design, structural plan, electrical layout, mechanical systems, construction materials, smart systems, etc, in the Design phase.
They must also provide their rationale behind different design decisions as well as any innovative measures instilled in its design. The houses need to be designed such that they are energy efficient; i.e. they consume as less energy as possible with minimal waste.
The construction phase requires teams to construct the house in the allotted space in a period of 10 days. The construction site for the upcoming competition is Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, Dubai.
The houses will then be declared open to the general public and visitors could tour the houses and explore their features and design. The houses will also be furnished with appliances, furniture and other necessities in a bid to promote them as an alternative to conventional building and way of life.
The competition consists of 10 contesting categories; Architecture, Engineering and Construction, Energy Management, Energy Efficiency, Comfort Conditions, House Functioning, Sustainable Transportation, Sustainability, Communication and Innovation. The houses will be evaluated on all 10 categories.
When it comes to energy consumption, the global landscape has changed considerably during the past few years. Coal and oil are being pushed out in favor of renewable energy sources like solar and wind. While companies like Tesla have proven the might of solar power by energizing whole islands with solar energy alone, a lot of work still needs to be done in order to push solar as a technology for mainstream use.
That’s where competitions like these come in as they can be instrumental in maximizing the potential of new as well as old technologies. Moreover, they can also prove to be an amazing learning experience for students, who get to gain some valuable hands-on experience from Solar Decathlon which will be transferred to the local industry, giving way to innovative and creative solutions.
Team BGreen has taken a really commendable step and other universities in Pakistan should follow suit in taking part in international competitions. To know more about them or to get involved with their work, you can reach Team BGreen on [email protected]