Thermablok Chosen by Cornell Students As Insulation for Silo House Entry in 2009 Solar Decathlon

Cornell University students are preparing to preview their eco-friendly "Silo House" at the New York State Fair August 27-September 9, 2009, just weeks before the 2009 Solar Decathlon competition in Washington, DC. The Solar Decathlon is a prestigious international competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy that challenges 20 college and university teams from around the world to design, build, and operate the most aesthetic and energy-efficient model home possible.

The 800-square-foot eco-friendly home will be on display at the New York State Fair in Syracuse Aug. 27 - Sept. 9

Designed by Cornell University architectural student Irina Chernyakova, the Silo House style combines sustainable modular design with a unique assembly of geometric elements. Chernyakova's intention was to emulate the colloquial architecture of the upstate New York landscape, combining traditional and original elements to create a complete living space.

Considering the challenges faced by these students to design and build a truly energy-efficient house adaptable to the rural New York State climate, Thermablok(R) became the eco-friendly insulation of choice for the project team. Thermablok's aerogel nano-technology, developed in conjunction with NASA, is the highest insulating material known to exist.

It is estimated that 40-percent of our energy is used controlling the temperature in buildings alone. More than 30-percent of this energy escapes from the building primarily through conventionally insulated walls and windows in a process termed thermal bridging. Thermablok interrupts thermal bridging, significantly decreasing energy loss. Tests by the US Department of Energy's Oak Ridge and JM laboratories indicated R- value increase of more than 40 percent.

"We're really happy about being able to install the Thermablok in this house, especially since there is a lot of steel in the framework," said Lewis King, a second year engineering student at Cornell who has been a team member since January, 2008. "It's the best insulator we could have used, it's a perfect fit.

The 2009 Cornell Solar Decathlon team is composed of more than 150 students from undergraduate and graduate colleges across campus including the Colleges of Engineering, Architecture, Art & Planning, Hotel Administration, Industrial and Labor Relations, Human Ecology, Agricultural and Life Sciences, Arts and Sciences, and the Johnson Graduate School of Management.

Unlike the other universities, who focus on architecture and engineering students for their projects, Team Cornell opted to involve students from all seven colleges in an effort to bring a broader talent pool and expertise to the competition.

"I find it comparable to starting a business team," King says. "We're the first team in this competition's history to involve the entire school."

After the New York State Fair winds down, Cornell team members will dismantle the Silo house and transport it to for Washington DC to reassemble it for the Solar Decathlon, which runs October 9-13 & 15-18, 2009. The Solar Decathlon is a biannual event started in 2002 in which university students from all over the world compete in 10 contests to determine which team designed, constructed, and operated the most attractive and energy-efficient home powered solely by the sun.

After two years of planning, designing and building, teams converge on the nation's capital to share with the public what they learned about the latest solar energy and energy efficiency technologies. Students are scored in 10 different categories: architecture, engineering, market viability, communications, comfort, appliances, hot water, lighting, energy balance, and transportation. Each house must produce enough electricity and hot water to perform all the functions of a home and also to power an electric car.

Thermablok is virtually weightless, 100-percent recyclable, hydrophobic (will not combine with water) and consists of more than 95-percent air, making it easy and inexpensive to ship, store and install. It is Class "A" fire rated, Cradle to Cradle Silver certified and will not age.

Thermablok and its parent company, Acoustiblok Inc., an international acoustical research company, are proud to sponsor environmentally important projects like Solar Decathlon in the worldwide community. Visit our websites at and

Tell Us What You Think

Do you have a review, update or anything you would like to add to this news story?

Leave your feedback
Your comment type

While we only use edited and approved content for Azthena answers, it may on occasions provide incorrect responses. Please confirm any data provided with the related suppliers or authors. We do not provide medical advice, if you search for medical information you must always consult a medical professional before acting on any information provided.

Your questions, but not your email details will be shared with OpenAI and retained for 30 days in accordance with their privacy principles.

Please do not ask questions that use sensitive or confidential information.

Read the full Terms & Conditions.