UM Solar Decathlon/ Solar House Project

Research Team: 
Start Date: 
Sep 1, 2003
End Date: 
Apr 30, 2005
University of Michigan - Architecture and Urban Planning

The Birth of MiSo*The Michigan Solar House (MiSo*) began in the summer of 2003 when it was one of nineteen colleges and universities selected by the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory. That same summer, team leaders traveled to Washington DC, the location of the Solar Decathlon in September 2005, to select the team’s competition site on the National Mall and learn about the Decathlon’s rules and regulations. Laying claim to an area directly across from the Smithsonian Castle, Team MiSo* returned to Ann Arbor to begin organizing its approach and strategies.From the outset, Team MiSo* has been based in the Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Planning curriculum and now provides opportunities for curricular and extra-curricular work in each of the partner schools and colleges within the University. Early Exploration In the fall of 2003, a graduate level research seminar convened to focus on the architectural research for the MiSo* project. The end product for this class was the MiSo* Manual, a comprehensive overview of the 2002 Solar Decathlon along with a full range of recommendations to pursue during the design process.  Armed with the MiSo* Manual, a new set of students embarked on the 2004 Winter semester engaged the MiSo* Design Studio. Through a collaborative design process, the studio developed a set of schematic design options, additional research on the various contexts MiSo* could reside in and a taste for exactly how challenging it could be to design an 800 square foot building.March 2004 marked the formation of the MiSo* Management Team, which includes representatives from each of the five subsets of Team MiSo*: Design, Operations, Building Systems, Public Relations and Finance. While still adjusting the newfound breadth of the project, Team MiSo* submitted its first Project Summary and Official Website to Decathlon organizers on April 15th. The management team along with the Winter Design Studio hosted an open house for students, university members, industry professionals and community members to showcase the design to date. Seeing (or Simulating) How the Sun May Shine With southeastern Michigan receiving a little more sun each day, the 2004 spring term studio featured four teams working simultaneously to create a set of design development documents, perform digital and analog testing and write the Simulation Analysis Report for the June 15th Decathlon deadline. Throughout the summer of 2004, a team of new and experienced students continued development of the design in preparation of fabrication of the MiSo* prototype during the fall of 2004. Joining the Design Studio this fall will be several other academic courses in mechanical engineering, landscape architecture and business. House construction is slated to begin in January 2005 and will occur primarily through the MiSo* Construction Seminar, offered during both winter and spring terms of 2005. The management team will continue to oversee all aspects of the project through both curricular and extra-curricular efforts.  Only The First Stop… After the unveiling of MiSo* at the Solar Decathlon, Team MiSo* will continue the project locally. Working with governmental and non-profit partners, the team will move the solar house into the community for use by a real-world client, providing the ability to evaluate the long-term success of MiSo* strategies. In this way, the MiSo* house can serve both the community and the academy as a model for innovation in energy-efficient living.

National Renewable Energy Laboratory
United States Department of Energy
Green Building Case Studies
Residential Building