Exciting News for the Miners!

Solar Decathlon officials announced today that Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz would be visiting the event this Thursday morning. Site officials have chosen three homes for Moniz to tour, and S&T’s Nest Home has made the cut! That’ll mean national publicity for the Miners’ design and S&T’s experiential learning programs.
Today the Miners replaced two solar panels that were damaged in transport, continued with touch-up paint here and there, trimmed out the flower beds with a touch of cedar, added the last of the shrubbery, and filled the flowerbeds with boxes DSC_4201full of long-life, sustainable* plastic flowers. They retain their vibrant colors even in drought-ravaged California.

The Miners’ 2015 design is clearly the “Best Ever” of the six solar homes that S&T has produced in the Decathlon’s 13-year history. Its design is warm, affordable, flexible, and appealing. AND original. Being selected for the home tour seems to indicate the Nest Home has caught the eye of the veteran DOE employees and volunteers who actually run this event. Kinda the-house-you-want-to-introduce-to-your-parents endorsement.

It’s tough for student designers to come up with fresh designs. During the official eight-day construction period (which ends at noon tomorrow) we saw the exposed ‘innards’ of more than a few houses being craned onto their foundations. Clean, modern and just a little impersonal for Midwestern standards one could say. We all love Ikea furniture, but a whole houseful? Maybe not.

On the other hand New Jersey’s Stevens Institute of Technology, our immediate neighbor to the north, has an intriguing approach to modern design they call the SU+RE House, a storm-resistant structure for the mid-Atlantic shoreline. We haven’t seen the interior yet, but they seem to have blended some great operating features into the home so subtly that you have to look very hard to find them. They DO have some spectacular furniture, and if that’s an indication of what’s inside they will be very tough to beat in the subjective contests. It’s no coincidence that Secretary Moniz will also be dropping in on them, too.

*We borrowed them. They’ll get reused many more times bringing joy to countless other people long after we head back to Rolla.

Now THAT’S managing your resources.