2015 U.S. Solar Decathon Winner 2015

Sika Roofing’s Sarnafil membrane was once again represented in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon, which took place from Oct. 8-18, at Orange County Great Park in Irvine, California. This time around, however, the Sarnafil roof happened to be featured on the winning team’s building.

2015 U.S. Solar Decathlon Winner

For the competition, Sika donated the Sarnafil membrane and other roofing materials to the Stevens Institute of Technology team from New Jersey. Stevens constructed a solar-powered and flood-resistant home for the New Jersey shoreline, called the SURE HOUSE. The term "SURE" stemmed from the words “sustainable” and “resilient.” The SURE HOUSE will soon be moved back from California to New Jersey in order to become a resiliency center in a town along the shore.

During the awards ceremony on Oct. 17, it was revealed that Stevens and the SURE HOUSE beat out 13 other teams to place first overall in the competition with a score of 950.685 points across 10 scored contests. The team from the University at Buffalo finished second, and Cal Poly placed third.

“It was incredible to receive first place,” said A.J. Elliott, a Stevens graduate student and the project's electrical engineer. “Our team's hard work and expertise culminated in a beautiful home that uses 90 percent less energy than the average New Jersey home while also being protected against a flood of up to five feet. The accomplishment truly surpassed our highest expectations.”

2015 U.S. Solar Decathlon Winner

The competition wasn’t all smooth sailing for the victors, however. During its voyage from New Jersey to California, the SURE HOUSE was damaged when parapet walls were torn off of one of the three modules after it clipped the bottom of an overpass. In addition, the other modular sections suffered damage to the roof’s metal edge details from the strapping that secured them during shipment.

“The walls were rebuilt after the buildings were attached to one another, and we had to reflash the parapet walls with new Sarnafil G410 membrane,” said Darryl Terry, Sika Roofing’s West Area Technical Manager. “We also removed and reinstalled Edge Grip and installed new Sarnaclad Metal Edge. We then hot-air welded strips of membrane to tie in the three buildings and reflashed three PV support pipe penetrations.”

Terry and two other Sika Roofing technicians were on site in Irvine for nearly 10 hours repairing and reroofing the sections that were damaged in transit.

2015 U.S. Solar Decathlon Winner

“The buildings were attached to one another and repairs completed just days before the competition began,” Terry said. “It felt good to hear that the building we helped complete won the contest. Stevens’ Clarke Snell and his team were great to work with and very accommodating. They truly appreciated the help Sika Roofing provided in assisting with the completion of the roofing system on the modular buildings.”

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon is an award-winning program that challenges collegiate teams to design, build and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient and attractive. The winner of the competition is the team that best blends affordability, consumer appeal and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency. The first Solar Decathlon was held in 2002, and the competition has been held biennially since 2005. The 2015 competition featured a total of 14 teams.

“The Sarnafil roof on the SURE HOUSE was a critical element to our home,” Elliott said. “The vinyl membrane worked great on our flat roof design, especially for being taken apart and reassembled. Also, the rigid foam insulation that came with the roof added amazing thermal efficiency to our passively engineered house, which played into our reduced energy use to ‘comfort’ the house.”

2015 U.S. Solar Decathlon Winner

The Solar Decathlon prides itself on serving three main purposes: First, the competition educates students and the public about the money-saving opportunities and environmental benefits presented by clean-energy products and design solutions. Second, it demonstrates to the public the comfort and affordability of homes that combine energy-efficient construction and appliances with renewable energy systems available today. Finally, the decathlon provides participating students with unique training that prepares them to enter our nation's clean-energy workforce.

With this year’s submission, Sika has now donated materials to teams competing in each of the past three competitions.

In 2013, a team from The University of North Carolina at Charlotte used a Sarnafil G410 EnergySmart membrane on its entry, UrbanEden. Back in 2011, Sika donated supplies to ENJOY House, a joint entry from Team New Jersey – consisting of Rutgers and New Jersey Institute of Technology.