Team Spain Unveils B&W House to Compete in 2009 U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon

The Spanish team from the UPM (Universidad Politecnica de Madrid),  presented last week  the design of the solar-powered house that will take part in Solar Decathlon 2009. The UPM is coordinating the Spanish multi-disciplinary team of young engineers and architects in this fourth edition of the contest.

The prototype, named the B&W House, representing the balance between black and white, was presented on January 15, at the Cervantes Institute in New York City by Josep María Adell, Professor of Architecture at the Polytechnical University of Madrid (UPM) and project manager of Team SPAIN in the Solar Decathlon.

B&W House - Courtesy of UPM
B&W House – Courtesy of UPM

The B&W House’s design is based both on technical and bioclimatic criteria, using the latest technology.  The objective is to minimize the impact on the environment while achieving an atmosphere of optimal living inside.

The eventual construction will be a cubic, one-story building measuring 45 square meters (483 square feet) that supports a large solar panel capable of orienting itself to the sun during the day and resting in a horizontal position at night.

The house’s interior is a unique transportable module that includes all the technology needed for energy self-sufficiency, since not only is energy captured by the solar panel on the roof but also by vertical panels on the walls that also move in keeping with the Earth’s rotation.

The B&W House’s commercial costs will be much lower than those of a traditional house.  The design also offers the possibility of separately selling optimized products with independent functions.

The Solar Decathlon is a competition organized by the U.S. Department of Energy.  Universities all over the world can compete by designing their own solar prototype.  A solar city will be constructed at the Washington Mall in October where all the solar houses of the respective universities are displayed.  Each home will be judged on 10 criteria including style, innovation, efficiency, lighting design, engineering, market viability, appliances and home entertainment.

Once the competition is finished, the Spanish team plans to enlarge the house by adding another story between the ground floor and the self-adjusting roof, whose orientation to the sun is reminiscent of a sunflower.

The UPM has taken part in the Solar Decathlon on two previous occasions, finishing in fifth and ninth place in 2007 and 2005, respectively. “On this occasion we have to do better; we’re going to try to win,” Adell said.

He added that it would be good for Spain to have a strong performance ahead of the inaugural European version of this same competition in 2010.

“The UPM is working at the commission of the (Spanish) Housing Ministry to organize the Solar Decathlon Europe, which will be held in Madrid in 2010 and in which 21 universities from 10 countries are to participate,” the project director of that initiative, Sergio Vega, told Efe.

For more information about UPM and Team SPAIN visit

Explore posts in the same categories: Bioclimatic architecture

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One Comment on “Team Spain Unveils B&W House to Compete in 2009 U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon”

  1. Kip Macioce Says:

    guys tried building diy solar panels? I’m wondering because I wanted to hear about your personal experiences. I tried a diy set and it worked pretty good. Granted it did not take ten mins, but it was pretty easy. Check my name over there. It is linked to the set I used.

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