Oct 12, 2009 7:16 PM by sleonard
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The BeauSoleil Louisiana Solar Home was designed and built by Louisiana students for Louisiana residents. Judges for the Market Viability contest in the 2009 U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon recognized that.
The University of Louisiana at Lafayette team placed first in the contest. Judges were looking for homes that answered the needs of their clients.
TEAM BeauSoleil designed for Louisiana residents who face harsh summers and hurricanes.
"The (BeauSoleil) house hit on all cylinders," said Joyce Mason, Market Viability judge and vice president for marketing with Pardee Homes. "We were so impressed with the degree to which the team listened to their market. They didn't impose their ideas or try to infer them upon their residents."
The team is one of 20 university teams from across the globe competing in the Solar Decathlon on the National Mall. TEAM BeauSoleil is the only team from Louisiana to ever participate in this contest held every two years.
"We knew from the beginning that if we couldn't bring this home to the people of Louisiana, we wouldn't accomplish anything," said Gretchen Lacombe Vanicor, BeauSoleil project manager. "We paid a lot of attention to our Cajun culture and produced a product that is viable."
The house is designed to withstand hurricane-force winds and to be totally self-sufficient, which makes it especially ideal for coastal environments.
It also reflects key elements of Louisiana's rich culture, including its world-famous Cajun cooking. At the same time, it represents an architectural heritage that developed after Acadians, who were exiled from Nova Scotia by the British in the 1700s, settled in south Louisiana. The result is a simple, modest, but highly functional 800-square-foot structure.
The BeauSoleil Home design incorporates several aspects of early Cajun cottages. For example, it emphasizes wide exterior porches for social interaction and casual entertaining, as well as movable exterior doors in the '"dog-trot" that make access to the outside easy. The home also has a large kitchen that is the cultural center of the home. Good conversation and great food, important elements of Louisiana's culture, flow naturally from this functional space.
This structure accommodates Louisiana's sometimes-challenging climate. Long, hot summers are the norm, so the BeauSoleil Home takes advantage of natural breezes and utilizes several dual-purpose shutters, while collecting its own water and generating more energy than it uses.