Blog Archives

Samson Cameron

I joined the Grow Home project for many reasons. I saw this project as a way use and expand the skills that I have gathered from doing construction, general apartment maintenance, and working for company that installs heating and cooling systems. I also saw this as a way to use the knowledge that I’ve been obtaining throughout my life both inside school and outside with the possibility to expand my knowledge in renewable energy systems and technologies. This project would allow me to have the opportunity to start my transition into the professional world from the Academia by providing me the chance interact with companies and businesses as well as working a real life project instead of just the ideas we plan out in the classroom without the chance to transform them into reality. With this project I have the opportunity to interact with members of 13 different schools at the University of Buffalo, get to know a little about them and understand how each have contributed to the project separately and how theirs separate worlds have come together to form this one project.

I’m coming into this to offer my knowledge from prior projects and program to help the GRoW team build the planned structure by helping install the plumbing, the electrical, and the different energy systems involved, offer solutions and advice to any problems that may arise throughout the rest of the project as well as take the opportunity to learn new things.

Kaitlyn O’Connell

I have been interested in the GRoW project for quite some time now and wanted to find a way to become more involved. Getting accepted into the graduate program in the ecological practices research group at the University at Buffalo, presented the option of joining the Solar Decathlon studio and becoming a part of this hard working team.

Being new to the project, my position is to bring a new perspective to the interiors of the house. Working on the interiors of the GRoW Home has already been a huge learning experience because other than making design decisions, I have to also consider material options in relation to all aspects of the competition.

GRoW Buffalo is a unique opportunity to gain real life experience and work towards something incredibly beneficial. Not only is it exciting to gain this new perspective through my academic studies, but it is also exciting to teach others in the community and elsewhere about the ideas the GRoW Home stands for.

Alexandra Strycharz

Participating in the Solar Decathlon is the greatest opportunity I’ve been given as a student. Working on a project like this has allowed me to gain real life experience and learn new skills that I wouldn’t have learned anywhere else in school. As a senior architecture student, I’m thrilled to be part of something so big to end my undergraduate career with. My role in GRoW Buffalo is to help design the interior of the house. Part of my job as an interior designer is to research sustainable and affordable materials while also designing furniture as both part of the architecture and as movable pieces. Taking on the task as an interior designer has enabled me to make smart design choices that support the project conceptually and add to the market appeal of the home. Working with such a motivated and talented team of students has been incredibly inspiring and I couldn’t be happier to be involved. Let’s GRoW Buffalo!

Vageesh Govindhen

I have a deep interest in Electrical Engineering and Net Zero building.  It is the technology for the future which would help the country meet its growing electricity demand. Following my interests, this project is a good platform to test and apply my research abilities.

Being an Electrical Engineer in the team, I am involved in wiring the house and powering it with its solar array. I also worked with the architecture team to design the lighting systems for the house.

I became interested in working on GRoW Home for the hands on experience providing the necessary knowledge to grow in the industry. I see this project as a platform to learn the practical difficulties of what I learned in school.

The project also spreads awareness among common people to understand the concepts of Net Zero buildings and its necessity in the world. I am very excited to be a part of such a commendable project.

Pranav Hardas

There are two reasons why I got involved in GRoW Buffalo project. First, I am specifically attracted towards design project with a theme of sustainability.  Sustainable design is a prime agenda of today’s industry. For Solar Decathlon, sustainability is not just a theme but a core requirement and that is both interesting and challenging for me. Secondly, we, engineers, love to design and as a student there is nothing better than to see your design perform for real at such a large scale. This project gives us an opportunity to display our design on a global level. This unique exposure to the professional world has been a key factor for my involvement in the project GRoW Buffalo.

GRoW Home, for me, is a highly efficient, sustainable, and marvelous piece of art, or is going to be a masterpiece by architects and engineers. Its a result of countless hours of thought process to make GRoW Home look simple, and make it perform as efficient as possible at minimum expenditure.

I have been working on designing mechanical systems of the house mostly HVAC which includes performing heating and cooling load calculations, sizing the equipment of HVAC systems etc. The other important part of my work is the building performance simulation. The aim of building performance simulation is to know exactly how the building would react comfort wise in California as well as Buffalo climate and optimize the building envelop. We are playing with permutation and combinations with 16 parameters such as shading options, passive ventilation, characteristics of insulation materials, conducting 5 to 10 building performance simulations daily to figure out which would work the optimal.

The greatest opportunity in this project is to be able to go as precise as possible on analysis of mechanical systems. We are evaluating multiple ways to maintain comfort in the house which is almost 1.5 tons of cooling load during the competition. The challenging part now we are addressing is how to strategically reuse and reject the heat extracted by HVAC system during competition that would reduce the electrical loads on the house and at the same time would not add much against the affordability contest.

During designing of HVAC systems, I got an opportunity to consult people with different thought processes for the same design questions: First was professors with really deep research background and other was professionals who have been making these systems work for past 20-25 years . Now, it is really amazing to see how differently yet persuasively both react to the same problem. It not only gave me a bettter chance to understand the HVAC systems but also gave a glimpse of how the life could be if I chose my career in either direction. I think that was a quite rare experience I could not get anywhere else.

Nicole Wawrzyniak

I got involved with Solar Decathlon because I want to see Buffalo become greener. I have always been a strong proponent of efforts to become more energy efficient because I believe it is a creative and technical challenge to modify our lifestyles in an earth-friendly way. Even though I am studying an unrelated field, I saw this project as my opportunity to take part in these efforts.

My role as the primary student contact allows me to share my enthusiasm for the GRoW home with the wide array of people who want to help us complete it. I organize the events on campus in order to not only get interested students involved in the project, but also to inform them about GRoW Buffalo’s purpose and worth in our community.

To me, GRoW Buffalo is also about Buffalo’s revitalization. My dad grew up in the declining city, but I am fortunate enough to watch it grow. This home will be a part of the developing green community that is helping to make our city great again.

Amanda Mumford

As an Environmental Design major who is minoring in Math and Architecture, I have a broad range of interests that all seemed to merge together in this one single project. I love the process of turning blue prints into a working reality, and this competition is one of the most influential platforms for that. A full scale construction project like this is familiar to the Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning, but one of the best parts of the project thus far has been seeing the effort expanded across other departments at UB and beyond. As UB’s first team to compete, we are setting precedents within the University by uniting students, professors, and resources across two campuses.

As the Public Relations representative from GRoW Buffalo, the core of what i do on the project is develop an identity and presence within the University and the city at large. I oversee areas of the project that are concerned with media and public engagement. Some of the things I work on in specific include coordinating events, overseeing the upkeep of the website and social media, and working with faculty to strategize communications plans in general.

The GRoW Home is contributing to a region wide green renaissance and has potential to be a model for future homes in Western New York. Everything that GRoW stands for was inspired by the spirit and history of Buffalo, and I believe that our city is once again on the cusp of becoming a world-class innovator.

Mike Tuzzo

I joined Solar Decathlon because it is a great project for getting real world experience. It is important for students to get their hands dirty in a real start-to-finish project. By going through the complete design process, we learn the consequences of our design decisions, and gain skills that we can use throughout our post-graduate careers.

My position as a cost estimator puts me in charge of tabulating the quantity take-off, and determining the overall cost of the house. As a member of the studio, I have spent time detailing the interior of the home and putting together diagrams.

GRoW Buffalo is a great project that brings together students from multiple schools within the University at Buffalo. This project provides students with valuable experience, and gives the community something to learn from and rally behind.