Solar House LED workers
Andrea Polli, third from left, and her students who are equipping the solar house with LED lights that demonstrate energy efficiency. Photo credit: Carolyn Gonzales. Photo credit: Carolyn Gonzales

The UNM/Arizona State University solar house that was part of the Solar Decathlon continues to educate and inform about solar energy. An open house is set for Friday, Feb. 21 at 1 p.m. at Mesa del Sol, where the house, SHADE, is on display. The house will be at Mesa del Sol through February.

Additionally, an exhibition of images of all the houses featured in the Solar Decathlon is on display at the Center for Advanced Research Computing, located on Central Ave. NE, just west of University Blvd.

UNM students and faculty from the schools of engineering and architecture and planning contributed to house with their counterparts at ASU. While at Mesa del Sol, a new component is being added to help people understand visually solar energy.

Andrea Polli, who holds a joint appointment in Art & Art History and engineering, is working with students to visually display energy consumption and production through the use of LED lights, which are being installed on the house.

“The students are placing LED strips on top of the house and underneath the overhang. Those lights will respond to the energy produced by the house, as well as energy consumption of a standard house,” she said. The lights will run off the house’s energy. “The students designed the LED lighting,” she added.

“This is a team effort and part of my current role as a co-PI on a five-year NSF-funded division of Chemistry project called Sustainable Energy Pathways in Engineering and Technology,” Polli said, adding that the other principal investigator is Olga Lavrova, from electrical and computer engineering.

“We are creating the first of these major digital media installations at the Solar Decathlon building currently at Mesa Del Sol. During the next phase of the project, we hope to create a much larger light installation on the facade of the Aperture center.  In addition, we are creating a series of videos about the project and have done outreach and workshops at the Nuclear Science Museum and Explora!,” Polli said.  

View computer generated images of the house with the LED lights.

Polli, who is in Art & Ecology and computer science, is actively involved in creating digital media in relation to the environment, whether it is urban or other.  She enjoys working with teams of students who come out of the art and computer science disciplines. “My work involves collaborating with scientists, designers and engineers to produce public art,” she said.

Polli’s work innovatively highlights new, green technologies by using alternative energy and lower power consumption systems when possible.