UPDATE: WVU Solar Decathlon Team Heads to California - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

UPDATE: WVU Solar Decathlon Team Heads to California for 2013 Competition

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MORGANTOWN -

Update

The West Virginia University Solar Decathlon Team has arrived in Irvine, California for the 2013 competition Monday.

The WVU team broke its solar-powered house down here and will rebuild it in California. The team has been practicing all summer.

The competition has attracted more than a thousand students from around the world.

Organizers will announce the overall winner on Saturday, October 12.


Original story

If you're traveling through West Virginia University's campus you might be used to construction sites for larges buildings with lots of machinery. But the WVU Solar Decathlon team is working on something on a smaller scale with a lot more energy.

The Solar Decathlon is a biannual event hosted by the Department of Energy. It challenges 20 schools around the world to design, build and maintain a solar powered house.

"All of the houses are required to use solar energy and to achieve NetZero, which means you're producing more energy than you're using in your home," said Branden Bellanca, the Student Project Lead. "And we've got a bunch of different things with and the house to help achieve that."

The students don't have the luxury of big machinery but still get the job done.

"We don't have a crane or boom truck on site so everything that is built here is by manpower," said Jeremy Zhou, a team member. "So we lift everything up ourselves."

Safety is a priority on the construction site. Once you pass the orange fence, there regulations that you need to follow. Like wearing a construction hat. The students also need to wear steel toed boots, and bright yellow safety vests.

The group is also adding in some technological touches to control how the house operates.

"The whole house is going to be controlled by smart phone and tablet whatever it might be the Internet," Bellanca said. "You'll be able to close then you'll be able to see how much energy you're using and adjust your habits accordingly."

Zhou is part of the Solar Decathlon team. He said that hearing about a house that can be kept cool and controlled without any electricity interested him.

"I have a lot of small solar panels that can charge a small things but I never saw that you can power an entire house with this sort of thing," Zhou said. "That was kind of like, curiosity brought me into this competition."

The competition is in October and the team hope to be done with the house two weeks before so they can show it off to the public.