purdue’s inhome influences Students, Community
Purdue University’s entry
in the Solar Decathlon
2011 — Inhome — placed
second overall and was
one of seven houses to
Jordan Wallpe is pursuing a Master of Science degree in mechanical engineering technology at Purdue Univer- sity, and served as the engineering manager of the Purdue INhome Solar Decathlon
team. He is a student member of ASES. Contact him at
2011 Purdue inHome teAm
Copyright © 2012 by the American Solar Energy Society Inc. All rights reserved.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon is a high-profile international competition in which 20 collegiate teams design, build and showcase solar-powered houses. Since the inaugural competition in 2002,
each event has expanded the knowledge of solar living worldwide, through innovative and breathtaking designs. Our team
from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., was committed to do this and more in the 2011 competition — we built
a real-life solution that broke common solar living notions
through an affordable and practical house, the INhome.
Short for “Indiana Home,” the INhome started out as
an idea of five students and one faculty member in the summer of 2009. We visited the Solar Decathlon 2009 to get
first-hand insight on what the competition entailed. Of the
many ideas we brought back, the most important was building an affordable, highly competitive solar-powered house.
We were motivated to create a real-world design that helped
solve a real-world problem.
The INhome was designed to be a fully functional yet
practical net-zero-energy home for a typical Midwestern
homeowner. It featured commercially available, high-efficiency systems and sustainable design, without sacrificing
modern comforts and amenities. An open floor plan created
a large, comfortable and inviting space. Our house had to be
easily transportable, so we designed it to use six core units
made of structural insulated panels (SIPS). With only seven
days to reassemble the house at the competition, our team
performed a practice tear down and rebuild a few weeks
before the event!
We finished second overall in the Solar Decathlon 2011.
With particularly cloudy weather throughout the competition week, our house was one of the best performing entries.
By JorDAn WAllPe
The INhome was one of only seven houses to reach net-zero,
which we accomplished with help from an 8.6-kilowatt Sun-
Power photovoltaic array. INhome also featured a mechani-
cal system that performed exceptionally well in the humid
Washington, D.C., weather. Another notable accomplish-
ment is that INhome was valued at $257,000, earning a third-
place finish in the Affordability Contest, a new component of
the 2011 competition. Many of the INhome’s 18,000 visitors
left saying, “Now this is a home I could live in!”
Few former Solar Decathlon houses have become full-
time residences. In fact, of the 100 houses that exist, only
five are occupied on a daily basis. Of those, only two have
been placed in communities, where the bulk of Americans
live. Keeping true to its goal of being a “real home for a
real family,” the INhome has been placed in a community
in Lafayette, Ind. — as part of a broader neighborhood
revitalization effort. The home will be monitored to sup-
port ongoing research into the long-term performance of
cost-effective net-zero-energy homes.
Over the course of two years a core team of 15 students,
along with more than 200 students from six different colleges,
worked on INhome. Purdue developed several classes to help
the students collaborate and receive course credit, and six
graduate research projects have been based on the house.
For most students, the project ended at the conclusion
of the Solar Decathlon 2011. However, as our lives move
on, the INhome will continue to do what we designed it
to do — impact residential construction and influence
more homeowners to consider solar living not only locally
throughout the Midwest, but worldwide. The INhome is
evidence that solar housing is practical, affordable and a
reality today. ST
Miller and Matthew
randy rapp, at
WreF 2012, May
13-17 in Denver.
They will be presenting a poster. Access
wref2012.org for a