Building under the California Sun
24/09/2013 - There is no better way to start a solar decathlon than with sunrise! And finish the day’s work after sunset, when the only available light is the light of your torch. First building days of Solar Decathlon 2013 in Orange County Great Park are over. All 19 teams began their race with time. All the buildings must be finished by October 3rd, when the solar village opens to the public.
For our team, it is a great experience because we are rookies in the competition and we’ve seen the building of the solar village only on photographs. 19 building sites are spaced out on strictly staked out plots on both sides of the main pedestrian mall. Trucks loaded with house sections and ship containers distribute their load quite smoothly along the perimeter of the building sites. Most teams use cranes for unloading. All sorts of fork-lifts help with the manipulation. The organizers ride around the building sites with style, in golf buggies.
Each team has its own assembly technology and their building sites are differently equipped. Most students build their houses themselves, often with the help of few experienced workers. Houses built by a hired construction company, are rare. When we watch preparations for concrete foundations’ boxing at the neighboring site, we can’t believe our eyes, how many original ways there are to anchor a building into a concrete runway.
Our first day plan was ambitious: to stake out the building, anchor the footing, settle the foundation grids, anchor the technological box into them and fix the floor panels. We managed! We work in two shifts. The morning crew starts at 7 a.m., shifts change in the afternoon, and the second finishes at 2 a.m. To be allowed to continue work, we have to have a 5 hour brake, which is lucky, because otherwise we would probably work nonstop.
We plan to finish the AIR House assembly in 5 days. During the time saved, we want to put all the technologies into operation, tune them out, and test how the house operates in the climate of California we have so far only simulated on a computer. It will be dramatic, but the first day fired us up nicely, and we are looking forward to what comes next.