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Austrian energy self-sufficient house competing at the U.S. Dept. of Energy “Solar Decathlon”

February 1, 2013

Vienna University of Technology’s L.I.S.I. in the competition for sustainable building in California

The “Solar Decathlon” is an international university competition to advance solar building technologies, hosted by the US Department of Energy. The team headed by the Vienna University
of Technology (VUT) was selected as one of just two European projects to compete in the upcoming event. “Team Austria” developed the high-tech, “energy+” house L.I.S.I., which will be displayed in
October 2012 in California.

The Solar Decathlon is the most challenging university competition in the field of sustainable building worldwide. It has showcased future living concepts since its inception as a biennial event in
2002. From 130 entries submitted by university and college teams from around the world in 2011, 20 projects were selected to present their vision by competing in the next Solar Decathlon 2013. The
Vienna University of Technology’s Team Austria entry – the L.I.S.I. house concept (Living Inspired by Sustainable Innovation) -- made the running as one of just 2 European teams to qualify in this
round. LISI’s textile outer façade shell adapts to the needs of its occupants and actively supports meeting all the technological demands of a high-tech, net-positive-energy home.

Architects of tomorrow develop ideas today
As the project leader for Team Austria, Karin Stieldorf (Workgroup Sustainable Building at VUT), maintains, “the Solar Decathlon is an ideal opportunity to demonstrate Austria’s innovative potential
in meeting the biggest technological challenges of our time.” The development of the atrium house prototype dubbed “LISI” was driven by the globally rising need for compact, affordable, and energy
efficient housing in urban-peripheral environments. She adds that, “Over the course of three semesters, Team Austria student teams designed and developed a variety of concepts addressing a
range of issues, for instance, regarding floor plan layout, interior design, and façade systems… The best ideas were integrated into the competition project after extensive consultation with experts, that
is, structural engineers, energy consultants, and system manufacturers.”

High-tech for the needs of today and tomorrow
LISI’s integrated flexibilty allows the core energy management strategy to be effective in any climate zone with minimal adaptations. Active solar modules are integrated in the building envelope’s
construction, in addition to the development of complex heating and cooling system controls to optimize the interworking of active and passive energy flows. Through audiovisually enhanced
scenarios, an interactive user manual explains how to optimize the house’s time-dependent power usage under variable conditions. The wood-based cladding system was co-developed with graduate
students from the University of Applied Sciences Kuchl in Salzburg.

Solar Decathlon
What’s special about the Solar Decathlon with regard to building practice: The prototypes are built full-scale and opened to the general public for 10 days of everyday-duty assessment. As in the
Olympic decathlon, the competitors are evaluated in 10 contests. The overall winning project has to prove itself in such areas as architectural design quality, optimal energy efficiency, and economic
affordability. Competitive house prototypes must operate solely on self-produced energy sources to cover the demand for heating, cooling, warm water, and home appliances.

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