Posts Tagged ‘Middlebury College’

16 February

Students Bring Solar Farm to Middlebury College


Dear Readers,

(Please click onred linksbelow)

If you are in favor of renewable,  clean, or solar energy, please sign this petition for FIT/CLEAN Program, accessible at Thank you very much.

Dear Friends & Readers,

If any of you solar enthusiasts should be visiting/driving through the state of Vermont later this year, you may want to visit Middlebury, Vermont.  Construction work is currently underway at Middlebury College for what will be Middlebury’s largest solar-power station.  Less than a half mile from the campus of Middlebury College, ground is broken on Route 125 for a 1.5 acres solar farm West of McCardell Bicentennial Hall, Middlebury’s Science facility.  In Spring of 2012, this solar energy system will join Middlebury College’s biomass plant and wind turbine on campus.  Middlebury College’s officials have signed an agreement with Williston-based AllEarth Renewables to create a small solar farm consisting of 34 solar trackers that will produce an average of 200,000 kilowatt-hours annually.  This installation will produce enough electricity for a year for one of the college’s residence halls the size of Battell Hall (housing about 238 students).

The AllSun Trackers (more on this in the next post of is the innovative solar energy system manufactured by AllEarth Renewables.  David Blittersdorf, CEO and founder of AllEarth Renewables, said that the solar trackers, mounted on poles, uses GPS and wireless technology to actively follow the sun throughout the day, producing more than 40%  energy than fixed solar panels of the same size.  “We’re excited to have this system to explore the potential for additional solar power in the future,” said Jack Byrne, Middlebury College director of sustainability integration. “This is a demonstration project that offers an opportunity for student learning and research as well as one more option to explore as we pursue our goal to become carbon neutal by 2016.  Staff will also have the chance to gain an understanding of the operational aspects of a solar energy system.”

According to Dean of Environmental Affairs Nan Jenks-Jay, students have expressed interest in developing a solar energy system at Middlebury for several years in a number of academic courses.  Four students in Professor of Economics Jon Isham‘s fall semester “Environmental Economics” class wrote a report, “The Cost-Benefit Analysis of a Proposed Small Scale Solar Farm at Middlebury College,” concluded that a project with AllEarth would have a positive economic and social impact.

 In 2010 students in an environmental sutdies seminar taught by Professor of Environmental and Biosphere Studies Steve Trombulak also recommended the college commission a solar project with AllEarth.

Hear! Hear! For these students at Middlebury College who were responsible for the final nudge to instigate this project that will provide economic benefit and solar power for Middlebury College.  Let’s hope that there will be more students throughout the country and our planet who will also take the initiative to bring forth learning opportunities for solar energy while benefiting their respective institutions.

~have a bright and sunny day~

Gathered, written, and posted by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker

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2 October

Solar Decathlon 2011-Statistics From the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011


If you are in favor of renewable,  clean, or solar energy, please sign this petition for FIT/CLEAN Program, accessible at Thank you very much.

Statistics from the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011:

·         Even though a majority of the competition days were cloudy, seven out of the 19 houses produced more energy than they consumed

·         357,000 house visits were provided to the public during 10 days

·         92,000 votes were cast for the People’s Choice Award, more than five times the number of votes cast during the previous competition

·         A new Affordability Contest was featured, demonstrating the reasonable cost of many energy-saving home improvement products and design solutions available today

·         Approximately 4,000 collegiate students earned valuable experience by building an energy efficient house with peers in other disciplines, helping them prepare to enter the clean energy workforce

·         Collegiate teams from five countries and four continents participated


Solar Decathlon 2011 teams that competed on the National Mall’s West Potomac Park:


Solar Decathlon 2011 Final Scores and Standings

1. Maryland 951.151
2. Purdue 931.390
3. New Zealand 919.058
4. Middlebury College 914.809
5. Ohio State 903.938
6. SCI-Arc/Caltech 899.490
7. Illinois 875.715
8. Tennessee 859.132
9. Team Massachusetts 856.351
10. Canada 836.423
11. Florida Int’l 833.159
12. Appalachian State 832.499
13. Parsons NS Stevens 828.816
14. Tidewater Virginia 774.910
15. Team China 765.471
16. Team Belgium 709.843
17. Team New York 677.356
18. Team New Jersey 669.352
19. Team Florida 619.006

Solar Decathlon 2011 Individual Contest Winners

Affordability (Awarded Tuesday, September 27, 2011) Contest

Empowerhouse of Parsons New School of Design and  Stevens Institute of Technology tied first place with E-Cube of Belgium’s Ghent University.

Empowerhouse of Parson New School of Design and Stevens Institute of Technology shines brightly at night after a stormy day

Stephen Scribner (front) accepts first place in the Affordability Contest on behalf of Parsons The New School for Design and Stevens Institute of Technology

and Team Belgium Ghent University’s E-Cube

visitors waiting in line to tour inside the finished E-Cube of Team Belgium Ghent University. This is the only entry of Solar Decathlon with second floor, essentially a building kit for a relatively inexperienced builder.


Belgium Toon Vermeir checks the tight competition stands online in the child’s bedroom on the second floor of E-Cube (but due to lack of handicap/wheelchair accessibility, the second floor was closed off to visitors)

tied for first and earned the full 100 points in the contest by constructing houses estimated to cost $229,890 and $249,568, respectively. New for the Solar Decathlon 2011, the Affordability contest encouraged teams to design and build affordable houses that combine energy efficient construction and appliances with renewable energy systems. A professional estimator determined the construction cost of each house. Teams earned 100 points for achieving a target construction cost of $250,000 or less. A sliding point scale was applied to houses with estimated construction costs between $250,001 and $600,000.


Appliances (Awarded Saturday, October 1, 2011) Contest

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Students from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign speaks with the Engineering Jury during judging

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Re_home shine brightly at night, with Washington Monument in the background

took first place and earned 99.955 out of 100 possible points by outperforming the other 18 houses in keeping its refrigerator and freezer cold, washing and drying loads of laundry during the contest week, and running a dishwasher during the competition. The Appliances Contest is designed to mimic the appliance use of an average U.S. house.

Architecture (Awarded Wednesday, September 28, 2011) Contest
Maryland took first place in the Architecture Contest

University of Maryland became the first team to have an electricity meter installed

University of Maryland’s team members celebrate after being presented with First Place in Architecture Contest

and earned 96 points out of a possible 100. A jury of architects judged homes on the aesthetic and functional elements of the home’s design; integration and energy efficiency of electrical and natural light; inspiration and delight to Solar Decathlon visitors; and documentation including drawings, a project manual, and an audiovisual architecture presentation that accurately reflect the constructed project on the competition site.

Comfort Zone (Awarded Saturday, October 1, 2011) Contest
Ohio State University topped the contestants in the Comfort Zone Contest,

Ohio State University’s enCORE shines brightly at night

The Ohio State University team shows visitors the air supply system of their house, enCORE

with 98.652 out of 100 points for maintaining indoor temperatures between 71 and 76 degrees Fahrenheit and relative humidity below 60 percent.

Communications (Awarded Friday, September 30, 2011) Contest
Middlebury College’s communications efforts,

Middlebury College’s Self-Reliance shines brightly at night after a stormy day

Middlebury College students pose for photo after accepting the first place award for Communication Contest

including communications plans, student-led tours, and team website, were judged by a jury of website and public relations experts, and won the contest with a score of 90 points out of a possible 100 points.

Engineering (Awarded Thursday, September 29, 2011) Contest
New Zealand won the Engineering contest,

New Zealand’s First Light shines brightly at night

New Zealand’s Victoria University of Wellington celebrate after taking first place in Engineering Contest

which was evaluated by a group of prominent engineers, who determined which solar home best exemplified excellence in functionality, efficiency, innovation, reliability and documentation of its energy systems. New Zealand scored 93 out of a possible 100 points.

Home Entertainment (Awarded Saturday, October 1, 2011) Contest
Middlebury College earned 98.560 out of a possible 100 points in this contest, which required students to use electricity generated by their solar houses to run interior and exterior lights, a TV, a computer, and a kitchen appliance to boil water. Teams were also required to hold two dinner parties and a movie night for neighbors.

Middlebury College’s student Melissa Segil prepares a dish during a competition dinner party

Hot Water (Awarded Saturday, October 1, 2011) Contest
Seven teams tied for first and earned the full 100 points in the Hot Water contest’s “shower tests,” which aimed to deliver 15 gallons of hot water in ten minutes or less. Of course, the water was heated by the sun. Tying for top honors in this contest were:  Appalachian State University,  University of Maryland, New Zealand’s Ghent University, Ohio State UniversityParsons NS Stevens, SCI-Arc/Caltech, and Tennessee.

Chelsea Royall, front, Team Design Director of Appalachian State University, talks about her team’s house (The Solar Homestead) on Media Preview Day

New Zealand’s First Light’s dining room

Maryland’s Watershed clear view

   University of TN’s Living Light shines brightly at night

Future homeowners of Empowerhouse of Parson New School of Design & Stevens Institute of Technology  

rainbow seen between SCI-Arc/Caltech’CHIP (left) & Ohio State University’s  enCORE(right)

Energy Balance (Awarded Saturday, October 1, 2011) Contest
Seven teams tied for first and earned the full 100 points in the Energy Balance contest. Teams earned points for producing at least as much energy as their houses needed during the contest week. The teams accomplished this by balancing production and consumption. Tying for top honors in this contest were:  Florida International,

Illinois, Maryland, New Zealand, Purdue, SCI-Arc/Caltech, and Tennessee.

Market Appeal (Awarded Saturday, October 1, 2011) Contest
Middlebury College won the Market Appeal contest, which evaluated whether the cost-effective construction and solar technology in a team’s design would create a viable product on the open market. Judges gauged market appeal based on three criteria:  livability, marketability and constructability. Middlebury earned 95 points out of a possible 100 as judged by the professional jury.

More about the Solar Decathlon

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011 is an award-winning program that challenges collegiate students from around the world to design, build and operate solar-powered houses that are affordable, highly energy efficient, attractive, and easy to live in. The competition shows consumers how to save money and energy with affordable clean energy products that are available today. The nearly two-year projects culminated in an unprecedented display of affordable green living and design on the National Mall’s West Potomac Park from September 23 – October 2, 2011. The Solar Decathlon also provides participating students with hands-on experience and unique training that prepares them to enter our nation’s clean energy workforce, supporting the Obama Administration’s goal of transitioning to a clean energy economy while saving families and businesses money.

posted by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker,


Any comments and suggestions are welcomed at

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1 October

Solar Decathlon 2011-Winners of the Overall and Market Appeal Contest


Dear Readers,

If you are in favor of renewable,  clean, or solar energy, please sign this petition for FIT/CLEAN Program, accessible at Thank you very much.




As we resume our report on Solar Decathlon 2011, I am also happy to announce that my hubby Mike is joining the as the camera person and technical consultant. His years of experience in electrical engineering and computer software will definitely be very helpful in broadening our horizon here in Sun Is The Future.


Now back to Solar Decathlon 2011’s final stretch. On October 1, 2011, Energy Secretary Steven Chu said, “…All of these teams must be commended for their hard work. The houses on display blend affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency. These talented students are demonstrating to consumers wide range of energy-saving solutions that are available today to save them money on their energy bills.”

The Market Appeal Contest results were announced on October 1, 2011, with Middlebury College’s Self-Reliance taking the first place with the score of 95 out of 10

Middlebury College’s student Melissa Segil prepares a dish during a competition dinner party

Middlebury College’s Self-Reliance won Market Appeal Contest

University of Maryland’s Watershed in the second place with 94 points, and New Zealand’s First Light in the third place with a score of 93. The Market Appeal Contest evaluated the livability of each house and its appeal within the housing market.

Overall Results of Solar Decathlon 2011

All teams competed in ten contests during ten days that gauged each house’s performance, livability, and affordability. The teams performed everyday tasks, including cooking, laundry, and washing dishes, while testing the energy efficiency of their houses. After all contest results were tallied, University of Maryland’s Watershed earned 951.151 points out of the total possible 1000, winning the overall competition,

University of Maryland student Isabel Enerson focuses her attention towards landscaping as the team prepares their house for public tours

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu (left), Director of Solar Decathlon Richard King (right),celebrate with the University of Maryland team after they placed first in the overall contest

Purdue University’s INhome came in second overall with 931.390 points,

Purdue’s INhome shines brightly at night, after a stormy day


and New Zealand’s First Light came in third with overall of 919.058 points.

New Zealand’s Nick Officer greet media at Media Preview Day

New Zealand's Victoria University of Wellington students react to the announcement of placing third overall in Solar Decathlon 2011

Each and every one of these solar home/house designs has its own purpose and individual and brilliant approaches in meeting its own special needs. Full competition results and details about the individual contests may be found at .

Richard King, the Director of Solar Decathlon for the U.S. Department of Energy said, “The Department of Energy would like to thank these incredible students who represented the clean energy workforce of tomorrow and who helped bring this Solar Decathlon competition to life. Today’s announcement is the culmination of thousands of hours of hard work and determination. You have helped to show that any one can save money and energy in their own home starting right now.”

More photos and videos will be in our next post of final wrap-up of Solar Decathlon 2011.

written and posted by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker,

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30 September

Solar Decathlon-Winners of The Communications Contest


Dear Readers,

If you are in favor of renewable,  clean, or solar energy, please sign this petition for FIT/CLEAN Program, accessible at Thank you very much.

Richard King, the Director of the Solar Decathlon for the U.S. Department of Energy, said, “Effective communication skills are critical to helping the public to understand the practical applications of energy-saving technologies and how these innovations can help every American household save money.”

For the Communications Contest, teams earned up to 100 points based on a number of criteria, including: web content quality, appropriateness, originality;video content, including walkthrough information, accessible captioning, clarity of the audio narrative and overall creativity; onsite graphics, photos, signage, and displays quality;message delivery to target audiences and people of all levels;use of innovative methods to engage audiences, including website visitors and people waiting to tour a house.

Middlebury College earned a score of 90 out of a possible 100 points for their Self-Reliance design, placing First in the Communication Contest.  Middlebury College wowed jurors with its video walkthrough, website, and engaging tours.  The Middlebury team demonstrated balanced talent across the entire communications competition, making renewable energy technologies accessible to the public.  Stacy Wilson, one of the contest’s jurors and founder and president of Eloquor Contulting, Inc., a communication firm specializing in web and social technology, commented that “We were inspired by Middlebury College.”  Our reporter (yours truly) of received a very informative interview from a Middlebury College student Melake, showing us that this LAS College team (the only team that is completely composed of non-engineering students)  is quite capable of constructing a comfortable (bordering on luxurious) solar home with tremendous market appeal.  The Self-Reliance is a design with gable roof, two-bedroom, for a family of four, with solar array of 30 panels (producing 7,930 kWh annually),

A look at Middlebury College's Self-Reliance's children's bedroom

Middlebury College house's solar array combines solar panels with a solar hot water heater on the roof of their entry

an air-to-air heat exchanger that circulates air through a network of aluminum ducts and feeds the green wall with condensed moisture, triple-paned windows with cork-insulated frames that have an R-value of 7 and a solar heat gain coefficient of 0.53 (which allows them to provide net heat gain over the course of a year).

Middlebury workers prepare the Self-Reliance of Middlebury College for installation of gable roof and PV panels

Appalachian State University came in second with their The Solar Homestead with 89 points.  I arrived at the Solar Decathlon 2011 to interview Appalachian State University’s The Solar Homestead on a rainy day so their ingenious aluminum hat was very well received by all visitors

Appalachian State University's The Solar Homestead shines brightly at night after a stormy day

14-month-old Graysen Black, son of an organizer, gets a preview tour after the opening ceremony, wearing the special aluminum reflective hat by Appalachian State University

to the Solar Decathlon, not only did it serve as a protective device sheltering our heads from the element, but it is also full of information about the design of The Solar Homestead. This affordable and attractive design features outdoor shower, outdoor kitchen, forty-two bifacial PV panels (that supply solar energy while providing filtered daylight), a generous outdoor living space called the Great Porch, an on-demand solar thermal domestic hot water system that uses phase-change materials to provide constant water temperature in compact storage, and a  Trombe wall that is filled with phase-change material to store heat throughout  the day and release it at night.

Bifacial PV panels of Appalachian State's The Solar Homestead above U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Jeffrey Tiller and David Leea


University of Maryland’s Watershed came in third in this contest with a score of 88 points.  Besides the pamphlets, walthrough, and web presentations, University of Maryland also provided the unique presentation of Q & A sessions outside of the Watershed design while visitors were waiting in line to see this home.

University of Maryland's student Justin Huang answers visitors' questions about Watershed design

It sure helped all visitors passing the time while getting a sneak preview of what to expect before they enter this design.  Watershed is inspired by the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem, searching for a solution to water and energy shortage by managing storm water onsite (filtering pollutants from greywater and minimizing water use) and using the PV and solar thermal arrays, effectiveness of building envelope, and increasing the efficiency of the mechanical system.  Watershed has very  holistic approach to water conservation, recycling, and storm water management, green roof that slows rainwater runoff to the landscape while improving the house’s energy efficiency, a garden, an edible wall system

a clear view of the Watershed design of University of Maryland

, and a composting station to illustrate the potential for improved health, energy, and cost savings with a complete carbon cycle program.  Some of its interesting features  are: the liquid desiccant waterfall serving as a design feature and provides humidity control, a home automation system that monitors and adjusts temperature, humidity, lighting, and other parameters to provide maximum function

visitors waiting in line to see Maryland's Watershed design

with minimal impact on the environment.  Watershed is intended for a working couple that can use the house as home and office, providing the opportunity to telecommute, thus reducing travel expenses in one of the most congested areas of the country.


written and posted by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker,


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11 September

Solar Decathlon (19)-Vermont’s Middlebury College’s Self-Reliance Design of 2011


Dear Readers,

If you are in favor of renewable,  clean, or solar energy, please sign this petition for FIT/CLEAN Program, accessible at Thank you very much. We are at a critical juncture in human history when individual effort and participation in the transition into renewable energy age is desperately needed!  Your signature will be very meaningful in helping all earthlings!  For a summary of why we need to switch to power the earth with Wind-Water-Sunlight quickly, reasons are explained by Stanford Professor Mark Z. Jacobson at There are more than sixteen episodes of discussions on FIT (Feed-In-Tariff/CLEAN Program) available at Please feel free to read/listen to them (type in feed-in-tariff in the search box at right).  Keep in mind that signing this petition only means that you are in favor of renewable energy and FIT/CLEAN Program and does not obligate you to provide any financial support. We simply want our combined voice to be heard even if we are not spending millions of lobbying dollars. We want to demonstrate that our system of democracy will work for people in all socio-economic strata. So please join us in this earthly movement by signing this petition and participating in our common goal of moving toward the renewable and solar energy age.

Today’s Solar Decathlon of 2011 video clip is on Vermont’s Middlebury College’s design Self-Reliance.  Self-Reliance is a sustainable home for a family of four in Vermont. The focus of this design is on sustainability, affordability, use of local material, and the vernacular form creating an American Farmhouse of the 21st century. This is a home of  design for simple construction: a truss system supporting the roof (gable roof easily sheds precipitation and maximizes space), stud walls filled with cellulose , floor made of locally harvested maple wood, triple pane windows optimizing solar exposure while cross ties providing lateral support for the structure, benches and plant beds are part of the organization of the design plan, and solar panels enable Self-Reliance to be a net-zero energy home.  Northern skylights provide passive ventilation and natural light into the center of the house. The South facade receives the sun with large panes of glass and solar panels.  In the exterior of the house, potable and non-potable water are collected and stored in four water tanks. The garden beds and benches in the front creates an extension of the public space. Upon entering the house, there is a transitional space for boots and jackets.  An open public area, used for dining, cooking, working, and socializing, provides a sense of spaciousness.  The Southern wall is a green house that provides food and passive heating  throughout the year. The living space receives even North light and has sustainably produced furniture. Half of the house is used for public space and half of the house is used for private space, with the transition between the two spaces indicated by  the dropped ceiling height.  There is also a full bathroom between the private and public spaces. Both bedrooms have tall ceilings and access to storage in the adjacent low ceilings.  Now, let’s have a look at this almost 1000 sq. ft. farmhouse inspired design of Vermont’s Self-Reliance—->

written and posted by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker,


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