Mary Tutwiler

Team BeauSoleil wins Market Viability competition in D.C.

by Mary Tutwiler

Breaking news from the Beausoleil Home in Washinton, D.C.: Team Beausoleil has just won the Market Viability contest, part of the Solar Decathlon. Of the 12 possible competitions, UL faculty advisor Geoff Gjertson says winning market viability was the number one goal of the team. “Wahoo!” was the first word out of his mouth. Then Gjertson settled down a little bit. “From the beginning, we said this competition is not just about building a high-tech toy, but something that could really be relevant and useful and livable for the public. Winning is a total fulfilment of our goals and mission. If we don’t win anything else, that’s validation for everything we’ve done. We’re very very happy.”

Criteria for the Market Viability contest are livability (how well does it function?), buildability (is it easy to build?) and marketability (does the house demonstrate curb appeal, interior appeal, quality craftsmanship and do the sustainability features make a positive contribution to its marketability?).

The target market is Lafayette and the Gulf Coast. Variations of the home can be elevated, and the house is built to sustain hurricane winds.

The team scored 97 out of a possible 100 points; the next closest house, from Rice University, scored 93 points. What the judges loved, specifically, were the kitchen and the bathroom. Those areas tend to be overlooked in designing a small (800 square foot) house, but a team from Louisiana knows that the heart of a house is its kitchen. “The judges were blown away that our bathroom and kitchen were not only big and generous, but they accommodated the way that people actually lived,” Gjertson says. Adds Colleen McDaniel cheering on her son, architecture student Scott Chappuis, and who is up in Washington currently and the shot the video below: “They hit a home run.”

Other competitions as part of the Solar Decathlon will continue throughout the week.

You can help UL’s team by sending a text message and giving your vote for the BeauSoleil Louisiana Solar Home for the People’s Choice Award. Text 99503 with the message spaces. Check out the project at their Web site, and link to their Facebook page from the site.