U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon's Team China Transforms Shipping Containers into Solar-Powered House

June 22, 2011

Design aesthetics, engineering, marketing appeal—these are just a few of the elements on which U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon 2011 houses will be evaluated and scored. But, new this year to the competition is the affordability contest. Teams are encouraged to think creatively and strategically not only about the overall structure and functioning of the house but also on how accessible they can make their design to everyone.

Team China, which is composed of students and faculty from Tongji University, has risen to the affordability challenge with an innovative strategy—take discarded shipping containers from the docks and refurbish them as the primary structure of the home. "We transformed standard shipping containers in order to compensate for the cost of photovoltaic technology," explained Hua Guodong, primary student architect. This allows the team to incorporate clean energy technologies, such as solar panels, into its design while keeping construction costs low. See the Energy Blog post.