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Mumbai: IIT-B’s design for solar-powered housing wins big in international competition

A team from the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B), won the first runner up position at the Solar Decathlon, a competition by the United States department of energy for designing affordable, high-performance and low-carbon buildings that mitigate climate change
By Priyanka Sahoo, Mumbai
UPDATED ON APR 22, 2021 12:46 AM IST

A team from the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B), won the first runner up position at the Solar Decathlon, a competition by the United States department of energy for designing affordable, high-performance and low-carbon buildings that mitigate climate change.

Team Shunya, a group at IIT-B started in 2012, is the only one to represent India in the competition. The team of around 46 students has conceived a cluster-level design of a community of houses that can be powered by solar energy.

The Artist Village at Belapur in Navi Mumbai was considered as the base for the design. The team has designed a community-dwelling of 10 housing units—four single bedroom houses, four double bedroom and two triple bedroom houses—over an area of around 16,000 square feet (sqft), all powered by solar energy.

“The design incorporates a self-designed automation system and application, cluster-level heating, ventilation and air conditioning system with radiant panels, creating a net positive energy cluster efficient by all standards,” said Bhavya Kasagni, student team head, Shunya. The cluster can be constructed for 2,718 per sqft.

What’s unique about the design is that it is that of a cluster of 10 houses that generate their own energy needs through solar panels. The design also comes with a do it yourself (DIY) concept that allows occupants to select different styles of windows, doors, railings from a catalogue to make their house unique from others.

While Shunya has always participated in the Decathlon for the design and build category, this year, for the first time the team went for the design category alone. “Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, we were all working remotely. We couldn’t actually build the houses and therefore we decided to go for the design category,” said Kasagni, who is a research assistant in the department of electrical engineering.

This meant assigning tasks to members in each of its six subgroups of architecture, civil, mechanical, electrical, communication and sponsorship and market analysis. Several rounds of simulations were done to achieve an optimum design.

“The Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown posed a challenge, unlike previous years when we were on campus and could work together. This year, we attended classes virtually all day, complete our assigned tasks and then meet virtually every night to take stock of the work,”

said Kasagni. The team plans to file a patent for their design.

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