Va. Tech wins inaugural Solar Decathlon Europe

Sept. 2, 2010
Virginia Polytechnic Institute solidified its reputation with a first place finish for Lumenhaus in Solar Decathlon Europe.

BLACKSBURG, VA. -- Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University solidified its reputation as a center for architectural and engineering research and innovation with a first place finish for Lumenhaus™ in Solar Decathlon Europe. Having competed in the 2002, 2005 and 2009 U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlons, Virginia Tech’s experience with energy efficient, modular, solar housing gave them an edge over the competition and has helped to fuel their sustainable housing research and development efforts.

“Our design research facilities and programs are some of the best in the world, as shown by our victory in the Solar Decathlon Europe,” said Joseph Wheeler, associate professor of architecture at Virginia Tech and lead project coordinator. “By using past competitions as the building blocks to improve our research in design and green technology, our students, who designed and built these homes, have been able to develop a portfolio of energy-efficient, state-of-the-art designs that not only help us to win competitions, but also allow them to study how these homes will fit into the mainstream market. ”

Lumenhaus, Virginia Tech’s entry into the Solar Decathlon Europe, combines architectural and engineering expertise to create a zero-energy home completely powered by the sun. The house fuses several technologies and architectural techniques to maximize energy efficiency and comfort, including the “eclipsis” shading and insulation panels that are autonomously deployed to respond to changing weather conditions, maintaining optimal energy efficiency.

“The technologies available in Lumenhaus are meant to not only demonstrate to consumers and builders what is possible in energy-efficient, solar living but also to show how functional and beautiful these types of homes can be,” said Robert Dunay, director of Virginia Tech’s Center for Design Research. “By aligning the architectural and engineering aspects of design, we were able to conceive a home that can work in perfect harmony to create an excellent living experience. We hope to take what we’ve learned through these competitions and use it to create a wider range of market-viable solar homes.”

This was the inaugural year for the Solar Decathlon Europe, which featured 17 homes from around the world. The Solar Decathlon Europe, modeled after the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon, is a prestigious international competition designed to promote green building, educate the public about the benefits of solar energy and demonstrate the market viability of sustainable housing.

Additional information about Virginia Tech’s Lumenhaus and its green technology and design is available at

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