I've been going over the websites for the individual teams competing in the Solar Decathlon this October. Here's the first 10 schools.
Cornell has a unique design [link]. It appears to be three cylinders connected by a glass cube and covered by a flat roof. It's an interesting building from an architectural standpoint. Looks like it might not be the most efficient for collecting energy. But their design allows for only heating and cooling select areas instead of the whole house.
Ohio State appears to have tried to fill every inch allowed. Not terribly interesting from an architectural standpoint. But, have a look at their windows. They've got some interesting ideas on how to cover the windows or open the house.
Go to here click "Our House" and "House Design".
Iowa State has what I'd call the default house for this contest. Mobile home shape with a roof that all slopes one way. Window covers that slide back and forth. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. This structure gets used a lot because it's a good one. Your average contractor should be able to build this easily. It doesn't get the oohs and aahs but it is more likely to find a place in the real world.
What they have that others don't have is a webcam so you can see the contruction. Watch them work here.
Arizona has a more stylized variation on the Iowa house. The structure [link] is significantly more elaborate. And they have an odd skin [link] that I'm not even gonna try to figure out until I see it in person.
I regret that Penn State [link] is being rather secretive about their house. They had a good place last year that made nice use of rainwater runoff.
You can get the best look of Rice University's house here. Looks like they've got a green wall to help keep the house cool in the Texas heat. I'm not sure about how they have the house in sections. It'll probably work better in person that on screen.
Alberta's house has a design that I like. And what appears to be a rooftop deck. I hope they let people up there. Most schools that have lofts or rooftop access keep people out.
I'm glad to see Puerto Rico is back. The first year they had two schools on either end of the island working together on a house in the middle of the island. It was a 100 mile commute for each. Not a lot of work got done, the house looked like crap, and they were still working on it while people were touring it. They worked that out and have put on a good show every year since.
The schools tend to design either for their own region or for their exact lot on the Mall in DC. Canada had a place that was virtually invulnerable to the cold. Puerto Rico designs for their island climate. Go here and click on the lower two pictures.
And they made an L-shaped house. Not so remarkable for a real house, but pretty different for the competition.
Right off the bat I love Spain's house. The whole solar array is on a central pivot point. It can be adjusted for whatever part of the world they're competing in and move for optimal position over the course of the day.
The Illinois team was looking to pay homage to the rustic, urban origin of their materials. Their home looke like a barn because the wood came from a barn and a grain elevator.
Be sure to have a look through their gallery. [link]