Big backing for Kiwi solar bach

National and international groups are getting behind a group of four Victoria University students aiming to build a solar powered Kiwi bach in the United States. The team will be designing and building the house in Washington D.C. next year as part of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon competition, where they’ll be competing against 19 other teams. What makes their entry even more notable is the that they are the only team from the Southern Hemisphere to have ever reached the finals. Better yet, readers of Design Daily can follow the teams progress with regular blogs on the Design Daily site from the team.

The high profile international competition will be held on the National Mall, near the White House in the U.S. capital. Student teams compete to design, build and operate a solar-powered house that is cost effective, energy efficient, and well-designed. 

The teams spend almost two years creating the houses, which are put through a series of 10 contests to evaluate their aesthetics and measure their performance. Anticipation builds throughout the 21-day event in October 2011 until finally a winner is found. 

The high-tech bach will be built in Wellington next year for display before being dismantled and shipped to the competition. And especially for Design Daily readers, the team will be posting regular blogs updating their progress. 

The team, called FirstLight, is led by Victoria postgraduate students Anna Farrow, Ben Jagersma, Nick Officer and Eli Nuttall.  

“We want to build a house that incorporates the best that technology has to offer while remaining simple, open, attractive and easy to live in. The design is a modern take on the classic Kiwi bach and represents our way of life,” says Eli Nuttall.  

The team hope to raise awareness of renewable and solar energy and present it as a strong alternative for New Zealanders.  

Offers of support for the team keep flooding in, including free accomodation while they are in the U.S. thanks to a former U.S. Navy commissary officer with fond memories of New Zealand. Joe Manelski approached the team and offered the use of his four storied mansion to house the entire project team during their time in the US.  

“Joe remembers New Zealand well from his 1959 visit to Christchurch on the way to Antarctica with the US Navy, stocking food for his ship’s half-year missions,” says team member Nick Officer. 

Kiwi expats have lent a hand to help forge links with universities from the US and Canada. American University in Washington D.C. has offered support so the team will have friendly faces to make them feel welcome while they are far from home. 

Fanshawe College from Ontario, Canada will help with construction in both New Zealand and the US with staff and students offering to travel to help with the initial build in Wellington, and then joining the team to construct the house on the Mall. 

A number of individuals and businesses in New Zealand have also given their time and expertise.  Industry experts from a variety of fields have offered their advice, which has been invaluable for the students involved. 

“We’ve been overwhelmed by the support we have received from these extremely passionate Kiwis; we’ve learnt so much already," says team member Ben Jagersma. 

FirstLight wants to showcase the best New Zealand has to offer with their entry and are aiming to fill the house with New Zealand products and appliances. 

Keep an eye on the Design Daily website for updates from the team.

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