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Harnessing the power of the sun at Tellus Science Museum

August 18, 2017 GMT

“We are trying to find excuses to be in our new house more often,” Tellus Science Museum’s Executive Director Jose Santamaria exclaims. “It’s a beautiful, comfortable, sustainable home with a pretty great view!”

Santamaria is describing the newest exhibit at Tellus Science Museum – a functional and efficient Solar House from West Virginia University – which opened on Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017. The house is one of 20 homes designed and built by university students around the world for the 2015 U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon. The students were tasked with building a house that is affordable, cost-effective, energy-efficient and attractive.

As renewable energy technology continued to advance, Tellus Science Museum saw a need to replace the 2007 Georgia Tech Solar Decathlon house which was stationed at the museum for eight years and was visited by over a quarter million guests. Santamaria and staff set out on a fundraising campaign to help bring a new house from the decathlon competition site in Irvine, Calif. to the museum in Cartersville. The campaign funds would also help offset costs to make the house “visitor-friendly,” i.e. adding hands-on interactive exhibit components, reader panels to describe the technology and design, rebuilding and redesigning portions of the home to make it accessible for guests, and more.

The 800 square foot home is surrounded on three sides by floor-to-ceiling glass. “Thanks to our great partners at companies like 3M, Shaw Industries and Georgia Power, we were actually able to make a few upgrades to the home,” said Santamaria. With products from these companies, the home now features a 3M solar reflective window film and Shaw flooring. “We are appreciative of the financial support these corporate supporters and various individuals have demonstrated, as well as the products and labor they have contributed to help bring this house to life.”

The Tellus Science Museum Solar House is open for tours Thursdays – Sundays, 1 – 4 p.m. Admission to the house is free with museum admission.

Tellus Science Museum, a Smithsonian Affiliate, is a 120,000 square foot science museum located in Cartersville, just north of Atlanta. For more information about Tellus Science Museum call 770-606-5700 or visit www.tellusmuseum.org or www.facebook.com/tellusmuseum.