Tuesday, October 8, 2013

BLDGtyp does Solar D 2013

DOE Solar Decathlon 2013. Morning Day 2

BLDGtyp recently had the privilege of traveling to sunny Irvine CA to assist the Stevens Institute of Technology team with the installation of their 2013 entry into the U.S. Department of Energy Solar 2013 Decathlon: Ecohabit. We had a fantastic couple weeks of fun out on the west coast with the great group from Stevens and certainly enjoyed working on the amazing house they have been building. Some of you might remember that John and I were the construction managers for the 2011 Parsons / Stevens Solar Decathlon house - so this time around, though we weren't able to assist with the full build over the last year, they asked us to help out with the site-install in LA which we were more than happy to jump in on.

This year, the team was again working with Wolfe House-Movers who executed their ol'-jack-and-slide maneuver to install the home. Their custom jacks never cease to impress me as many times as I see them lift a house up in the air. Always a fun operation too; lifting whole houses up and down and all that.

(Oh - all these great photos were taken by Stevens crew, Esp. Zak - nice work...)

Our man Gareth supervising the house module just after being set - Wolfe uses those big yellow jacks to lift the house and set it gently down on our footings. 
Yours truly setting one of the large roof beams.

The design includes a great covered porch on the East side. You can the see the dramatic roof line here and gang hard at work.
One really interesting thing we got to test out while there was the installation of a new product: the DOW Powerhouse Solar Shingle. A really interesting operation - the shingle is installed with regular roofing nails, almost just like a regular shingle over a special underlayment (a Class A fireproof ceramic fiber based underlayment - rolls out just like tar-paper though). You have to pay attention to your spacing and be a bit gentle with the 'biscuits' (splines which connect one shingle to the next) but otherwise the install is darn straightforward. We were fortunate to have a couple great guys from DOW out to assist us by supervising the install and checking our work throughout but it all went in quite well. I'd be really interested to see how the $/W compares to a traditional system once you take into account the fact that is is also the roofing layer (unlike regular racked Polycrystalline panels)

Installing DOW Powerhouse Solar Shingles. And yes - I'm rocking the full Lawrence-of-Arabia-head-gear there: what can I say, its damn hot in that desert for a guy from Massachusetts!
Just nail where is says and connect one to the next.
So a big thanks to the Stevens' team for bringing us out! We certainly enjoyed getting to work with you all and best of luck with the competition - we'll be pulling for you! And a huge congratulations to all the teams competing of course - really inspiring work by all of you. 

Check out the Stevens project (or if your near Irvine - go see it!)