Post Classifieds

Architecture project morphs into solar house

By Siena Morgan
On April 12, 2011

It's a rare, sunny winter day in Vermont. The phone hadn't yet rung, but people stopped in every few minutes to ask questions.

There was an excitement in the air, as Professor Matt Lutz checked his phone anxiously.

"They're supposed to be here any minute now," said Lutz. "Any minute now."

The insulation was supposed to be installed on the house that Tuesday, and the company was running late.

The solar house on Disney Field is part of a major large-scale solar project that Lutz and his students in the architecture project are working on.

The project began as an entry for the architecture department in the 2011 Solar Decathlon in Washington, D.C. The goal: To design, build and transport an operational solar house to the Smithsonian Mall in D.C. for the competition.

However, when the application fell through, the project took off, said Lutz, and more projects were added to the whole.

The solar house, according to Lutz, is part of a project called RAVE (Renewable Adaptable Vermont Eco housing) and will serve as an experiment in solar building for students, but will also be available as an extra building for Norwich to use at its disposal.

"It will be available as a house for guest lecturers, or guests of the university, for example speakers from the Todd Lecture Series," said Lutz. "It's a fully functional house."

The EMBARC, or Energy Mobile Building Arts Research Center Project, accompanies the RAVE project on Disney Field. The EMBARC building is a mobile lab for the geological sciences.

This building will serve a very different purpose, said Lutz, and will bring together many different departments on campus.

"It is fully self-sustaining, and has its own water-catching system," said Lutz, "so you could take it out in the outback and have a fully functional lab that doesn't need really anything."

Students working on this project are going to continue to observe the building to fine-tune it and turn it into a much larger-scale project.

For this stage of the solar project, student participation was voluntary, according to Lutz, but will go to an application system in the future. "We're hoping to get as many students involved as we can," said Lutz. "This project is really growing."

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