Here comes the sun

Name: Kevin Rodgers
Graduate program: Sustainable energy systems
Year: Second-year master's student
Hometown: Memphis, Tennessee

Home sweet home: As project manager for the Purdue Solar Decathlon team, Kevin led a vast network of students and workers in the design and construction of a fully-functioning solar home (called INhome) that will compete in the 2011 Solar Decathlon in Washington, D.C., this month. Purdue’s entry is an Indiana first!

Vision for the future: Kevin got his first look at the biannual competition as a Purdue senior majoring in mechanical engineering technology. He was one of several in a class that wrote a proposal to the Department of Energy supporting a Purdue entry. “Some of us went to the 2009 competition during fall break. We really got motivated and also took away ideas on things to do differently.”

A unique contribution: Utilizing NASA research, Kevin designed a “biowall” composed of plants for the home that integrates with the heating and cooling system to filter impurities from the air. “The plants thrive on the chemicals absorbed, and it provides a nice connection to nature inside the home.”

Net-zero living: While studying abroad in Australia, Kevin’s eyes were opened to the scarcity of natural resources when, during a drought, he saw on the news that an elderly man had been attacked by a neighbor for watering his lawn. He’s been attuned to the environment ever since. Now, he’s especially interested in net-zero energy building practices. “I want to show builders and homeowners that a net-zero home is not only possible, but it can be attractive and comfortable, too.”

A full-time job: Since construction began on the INhome project in April, Kevin figures he’s devoted well over 40 hours to it each week. He’ll receive his master’s degree in May but doesn’t know yet what he’ll be doing afterward. “When I get some free time, I’ll think about that,” he laughs.

By Tammy Weaver-Stoike