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UNC Charlotte Students Make Progress On Solar House

UNC Charlotte's Solar Decathlon Team says it's about half-way through completing the construction of its solar house. They were recently nominated from teams all over the world to compete in a U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon competition.  

The UNC Charlotte team is calling their $300,000 solar house, UrbanEden. It's been four months in the making and you can see the walls now and imagine what it will look like when it's finished.   

Credit UNC Charlotte
A view of the outside decks of the solar house with the furniture outside.

Half of the three-room house is outdoors and glass walls will line the back of the rooms. There's a spacious back porch, a vertical garden that provides privacy, a small pond and waterproof furniture that easily moves outside. 

And of course, there will be 36 solar panels on the top of the roof, because the house must be 100 percent solar-powered.

Recent graduate Brian Ouimette is a lead mechanic on the project. He works with Rony Yanes of Full Service Plumbing to figure out how much pressure they should put through the compressor to test the safety valves.

Credit Tasnim Shamma
Recent graduate Brian Ouimette works with a plumber, Rony Yanes, to figure out how much pressure they should put through the compressor to test the safety valves.

Ouimette designed the house's plumbing, heating and cooling system. He says it's surreal to see the project come to life.  

"It's a very unique opportunity," Ouimette says. "I mean, how many people get to build a house while they're still in college?"

The team expects to finish building the house by August. It will then take it apart so that it can ship it to Irvine, California, where the competition will be held in October. Once the 48 team members arrive in California, they'll have about a week to put the house back together.