Team Orange continues construction on Casa del Sol. Steve Zylius/UCI

EVENT: Media, come take a sneak peek at Casa del Sol, the solar-powered, drought-resistant home that 100 students from UCI, Chapman University, Irvine Valley College and Saddleback College have designed and built for the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon. Working in scorching heat and drenching storms, they have constructed a house patterned after the California golden poppy that can harvest the hot rays of the sun and capture and use every drop of El Nino rain.

Team Orange is Southern California’s “hometown” entry in the grueling national competition. The students will begin dismantling the house Thursday to truck the pieces over to the Orange County Great Park starting line by 6 a.m. Sept. 28 and then reassemble the entire home in just nine days. Come see their hard work before they pull out the hammers.

WHEN/WHERE: 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 17, Irvine Valley College, 5500 Irvine Center Drive, Irvine ( Go behind CEC building at the northeast corner of campus (near Jeffrey Road and Irvine Center Drive) to lot 3/4. Find construction site sign saying “Solar Decathlon Parking.”

INFORMATION: Media planning to attend should contact Janet Wilson at 949-824-3969, 213-880-8948 or to obtain a parking permit. High-definition B-roll footage and high-resolution photos will be available.

BACKGROUND: The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon is a biennial event challenging student teams to build the best-designed, most affordable, net-zero home. As many as 100,000 visitors are expected at the Orange County Great Park between Oct. 8 and 18 to tour Casa del Sol and other student-created houses. Winners will be announced Oct. 17.

Jack Brouwer
UCI professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering Jack Brouwer and UCI mechanical engineering major Teagan Barnes test the plumbing system to make sure it’s working.
Steve Zylius/UCI

A first-ever contest innovation by Team Orange is the inclusion of a inverter that directly powers an electric car from rooftop panels, avoiding significant power losses caused by switching between AC and DC, as most homes do. Air conditioning comes from chilled ceiling water pipes that obtain cold water from a thermo-incline water tank and a cutting-edge evaporative chiller. In response to California’s drought, rainwater and gray-water catchment tanks capture everything from dishwater to storm runoff to irrigate vertical landscaping. Passive solar elements include panels that open and close like petals to maximize shade and privacy and a brise soleil on the eastern side to block dusty Santa Ana winds.