Stevens’ waterfront eco-house wins fourth place in international competition
A sustainable “smart house” designed and constructed by students and faculty at Stevens Institute of Technology on Sunday won fourth place in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon, a prestigious competition in which engineering teams from schools around the world compete to design, build, and operate an energy-efficient home with tight constraints on budget and building parameters.
The house, which the Stevens team had been building on the banks of the Hudson River throughout last spring and summer, was designed to meet the highest standards of engineering, design, architecture, and computer science. The house includes solar shingles, a rainwater harvesting system with green wall and green roof, a condensate misting system, and a re-circulating heat pump.
Following the completion of the house in Hoboken, it was shipped across the country and rebuilt on the site of the Decathlon, which took place at the XPO, a world’s fair of clean, renewable, and efficient energy in Irvine, California. The fourth-place finish was a significant improvement over the team’s 13th-place finish in the 2011 competition, which is held biannually.
On a recent tour of the team’s build site, students explained that the house, called Ecohabit, was “a house with a brain.” They thought their house would stand out from the others in the competition due to the methodology of its designers.
“Most of the other schools that are going to be in this competition are schools with big architecture programs,” said William Hazen, a recent graduate. “We came at this from the point of view of engineers. We’re interested in solving problems.”
Case in point: Hazen, a mechanical engineer, invented components to streamline the house’s HVAC system. In addition, the house’s hot water is available only on demand, saving a significant amount of energy. Like the hot water, most of the house’s systems are on timers or easily controlled by a center console.
The plumbing is also all run out of one section of the house, minimizing the necessary piping. The main water meter, along with electrical and HVAC systems, are all kept in a tiny section of the house, accessible only from the outside.
“This way, it’s not only out of the way, but when the meter man comes to do a reading, you maintain your privacy,” said Zak Moy, another student who worked on the house.
Additionally, half of the house sports a green roof and walls, which would automatically gather rainwater for the garden below. The other half powers the structure, holding hundreds of solar shingles, which the students say improve the house’s aesthetic qualities, not to mention its cost.
“With the shingles, you don’t have to pay for a bulky rack to put your panels on,” said Claire Griffin, a mechanical engineering student.
Inside, there’s a master bedroom, a dining and kitchen area, a living room, and a “flex room,” which could be used for anything from a home office to a nursery. Each room is provided ample natural lighting and connects to the outside via collapsible doors, which are meant to maintain an open feel to the house.
In a statement last week, Stevens President Nariman Favardin praised the students’ collaborative efforts.
“I am incredibly proud of our team,” he said. “The competition was tremendously rigorous, and our students showed the world what we at Stevens know so well—that collaboration can yield outstanding innovation that makes positive societal impact.”
Ecohabit accumulated 939 points out of a possible 1,000, garnering the house fourth place overall and among the top five finishes in the individually judged categories of architecture (second), market appeal (tied for fourth), hot water (tied for first) and energy balance (tied for first). They outscored their own 2011 Solar Decathlon finish by more than 100 points.
WindMill Hot Dog shop to close due to post-Sandy difficulties
The WindMill, a hotdog shop located a block from Hoboken Terminal, announced it was closing this week due to difficulties caused by Hurricane Sandy, according to its owners. The loss in profits caused by a decrease of pedestrian traffic in the months following the storm, as the terminal struggled to reopen, was apparently too damning to overcome.
“Simply put, after Hurricane Sandy, things were just never the same,” said Roger Corrado and Tim Cochrane in a statement. “There is nothing better than a WindMill hot dog and [we] agree it has been [our] pleasure to serve Hoboken the very best.”
The owners have opened a separate WindMill in Brick Township, and plan on returning to Hoboken one day under the right conditions. Rena Levine Levy and Steven Levine, owners of the WindMill Franchise Company, said that while they regret the closing, they acknowledge the valiant efforts made by the owners of the location.
“Roger and Tim have nothing to be ashamed of; they both worked tirelessly to make their business work. Sandy was an unexpected catastrophe and the aftermath was just too large to overcome,” they said in a statement.
Quality of Life Coalition schedules various debates ahead of Election Day
The Hoboken Quality of Life Coalition announced the dates for its election-year candidates’ forums this week, a tradition the Coalition has maintained for nearly a decade. The forums give Hoboken voters an opportunity to hear directly from the candidates running for mayor, council at large and Board of Education in the Nov. 5 election. In addition, QLC will host a debate on the ballot question concerning rent control. These events are moderated by Bob Bowdon, a professional interviewer and longtime resident of Hoboken, who has expertly conducted QLC-sponsored forums over the last six years.
The events this year are as follows: a Council at Large Candidate Forum will be held on Tuesday, Oct.22, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Elks Lodge, 1005 Washington Street. A Mayoral Candidates Forum will be held Wednesday, Oct. 23, from 7 to 9 p.m. also at the Elks Lodge.
The Rent Control Ballot Question Forum will take place Monday, Oct.28, from 7 to 9 p.m. at Our Lady of Grace School Auditorium, located at the corner of Willow Avenue and Fifth Street, and the Board of Education forum will be Tuesday, October 29, from 7 to 9 p.m., also at Our Lady of Grace.
To get a better idea of who the mayoral candidates are and what they stand for, check out The Hoboken Reporter mayoral debate which took place recently at http://hudsonreporter.com/pages/archive_video or click on the banner on the hudsonreporter.com homepage.
Pre-registration required for historical museum’s Sandy events
On the anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, Tues., Oct. 29, the Hoboken Historical Museum and Stevens Institute of Technology are inviting the community to a panel discussion at 1 p.m. and an evening program at 7 p.m. focused on examining the lessons learned from the storm. The events are free, but registration is required. Visit www.stevens.edu/sandy to register for either or both events, which will be held on the Stevens campus.
For more information on the events, read an article that appeared in last weekend’s edition of The Hoboken Reporter at http://bit.ly/16gvJTQ.
Got Hurricane Sandy stories and photos to share?
Do you have an untold Sandy story or an interesting photo? We’d like to hear from you!
We’ll be compiling the tales in an upcoming edition. Just tell us an anecdote or explain how you survived. We want to hear our neighbors’ stories.
Send us your story in 300 words or less in the body of an email. To submit photos, attach up to three photos per email as .jpg attachments.
Put “Hoboken Sandy stories” in the subject head and email to editorial@Hudsonreporter.com by this Monday.
They don’t have to be heroic or earth-shattering stories; we just want to know what you did during the storm, or anything else of note. We will use the most relevant ones in our publication in late October.
HoLa Charter School to celebrate Dia de los Muertos Oct. 26
Hoboken’s HoLa charter school will celebrate “The Day of the Dead” or “Dia de los Muertos,” a traditional Mexican holiday similar to Halloween, on Oct. 26 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The celebration will take place on Jefferson Street between First and Second Streets, in front of the HoLa School.
The event costs $13 for individuals and $30 for a family of four. Advance tickets are $10 per person and $25 for a family. For more information and to buy advance tickets, visit http://bit.ly/19QlNNT.