LEAFHouse _ Solar Decathlon 2007

Every two years, the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon challenges 20 collegiate teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are affordable, energy-efficient, and attractive. The winner of the competition is the team that best blends cost-effectiveness, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency.

UM competed in two previous Solar Decathlons (2002 and 2005) run by the A. James Clark School of Engineering, and the 2007 Solar Decathlon led by the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation in partnership with the A. James Clark School of Engineering. The 2002 solar house came in fourth place in the overall competition and the 2005 house won the People’s Choice Award and a BP Solar Innovation Award. Both provided valuable exploration in the research, design, engineering, and construction of a completely solar-powered home.

For the University of Maryland’s 2007 entry, LEAFHouse, faculty advisers built an interdisciplinary research and design process engaging students, faculty, industry mentors, and the community in the development of a sustainable future.

The LEAFHouse Team had three intertwined goals: to advance the sustainable design and construction industries, to create a center of excellence in integrated design at the University of Maryland, and to demonstrate that solar technology is practical for everyday life. CUSP sees the Solar Decathlon as an opportunity to provide hands-on experience to students in the process of integrated design; to educate the public about environmentally sound, sustainable construction; and to promote the role of efficiency and solar technologies in achieving energy independence. LEAFHouse central goals were founded on inculcating an ethic of integrated, holistic work, so that we trained future leaders to expect nothing less.

In the 2007 Solar Decathlon, Maryland took second place overall and won the People's Choice award for the second time in a row. UM placed 1st or 2nd in half of the individual Decathlon contests.

In January 2008, the LEAFHouse Team was invited to the Maryland State House to receive binding resolutions from the state Senate and House commending the work of the Team.

LEAFHouse also won these honors, awarded by industry groups at the Solar Decathlon:

  • ASHRAE: Integration of Renewables for Sustainable Living
  • NAHB: First Place in the NAHB Marketing Curb Appeal Award
  • American Institute or Architects Potomac Valley Chapter Award for the Special Award for the Advancement of the Art and Science of Architecture
  • IEEE honored LEAFHouse Team on 04.12.08

And LEAFHouse was awarded an Award for Distinctive Residential Architecture in the Washingtonian / American Institute of Architects 28th Annual Awards Program. As a professional awards program, the Washingtonian magazine and the Washington Chapter of the American Institute of Architects Washingtonian Residential Design Awards Program honors distinctive residential projects, regardless of size or classification, on the basis of excellence in total design.

LEAFHouse inspired public interest and understanding of solar energy, and are shaping the next generation of architects, engineers, and leaders in sustainable development. LEAFHouse’ aim is to change the way buildings are designed and built, making visible the tools available to do so now. Collaborative, integrated design is critical to success in tackling the problems of the 21st century. It is not the norm in the building industry today, nor in academic settings.



Exterior View

Construction on UM Architecture Building Grounds

2007 Solar Decathlon Team

LEAF House Interior

Student Explains Desiccant Waterfall System

Integrated Systems Diagram