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Early Peek at Solar Decathlon Houses

Twenty prototype solar houses are taking shape on the National Mall, racing to be ready for the contest's opening on Thursday and public viewing starting Friday. I haven't been inside any yet, but I picked up a few interesting tidbits.

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette is building a house that reflects Cajun culture--and can withstand 140 mph sustained winds. It's Cajun by way of a "dogtrot." A staple of traditional homes in the area, a dogtrot is a covered breezeway between the part of the house where cooking and other heat-generating activities take place and the living and sleeping spaces. And they've designed the house so a homeowner could batten down the hatches in a hurry, evacuate for a hurricane and collect fresh rainwater during the big storm. Within days, owners could return to their homes and rely on a good supply of potable water and solar electricity, two commodities that were desperately scarce after Hurricane Katrina.

Similarly, the University of Minnesota has designed its house to handle the rigors of the frigid, snowy north. Solar panels are only on the southern side of the steeply pitched roof, while there's a skylight over part of the northern expanse, allowing sunlight to illuminate the area below. Their brochure says lighting in the house will use only 500 watts, total.

We're going to have full coverage in Saturday's Real Estate section.


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By Elizabeth Razzi  |  October 8, 2009; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Home features , New construction , Outdoors , Remodeling and repair  
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Next: Low-Tech Sustainable Houses and The Weekend Poll

Comments

Went by yesterday: Iowa has some great pumpkins in their landscape plan; Spain was more interested in taking pix of a visiting dignitary; Germany has a shiny cube; and Ohio State Univ. did have the school flag flying. Prof. from Iowa was generous with her time to answer my questions. Will return Friday for walkthrus.

Posted by: peter51 | October 8, 2009 6:59 AM | Report abuse

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