Visitors check out House of CARDS

By Aisha Rodriguez


   The University of the Incarnate Word got its first inside look – along with the city – of the House of CARDS during San Antonio’s largest solar tour to date on Saturday, Oct. 1.

UIW’s house was among 25 different solar-powered homes and businesses on the tour shown to those interested in learning more about solar energy resources.

CARDS is an acronym for Cardinals Achieve Renewable Design with Solar.

The 768-square-foot house, which was designed by several senior project teams in the Department of Engineering, displayed many eco-friendly building options. Everything from the foundation to the roof was specifically picked after countless hours of research and careful consideration. The bathroom and kitchen meet the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards for accessibility. Space also is devoted for a dining, bedroom, living and office area.

“We had input on everything and helped each other with research,” said Magenta Bernal, a 22-year-old engineering management major helping to lead some of the tours. “We learned how to work together as a team and were actually able to build something. To see it happening is the best part.”

Walking groups of people through the home, the engineering management students were able to explain its many innovative features. Here, the students were able to answer any questions the public had, informing them of energy-efficient options available to them.

One of the most noted properties in the home included its photovoltaic roof panels, which capture solar energy, providing power to the home. Aiding in the production of solar-powered energy is the home’s south deck. Made from recycled plastic bottles, its reflective properties allow light to bounce off its surface onto dual-sided photovoltaic roof panels.

The rainwater catchment system awed those interested in water conservation. The system works by collecting rainwater in a tank, which is then used to irrigate the home’s landscape. The interior of the home was also designed with energy conservation in mind. The home will include all Energy Star appliances and lighting will be LED (light-emitting diode).

The flooring in the home will be environmentally friendly. Using materials that are easily replaceable and mold resistant was important.

“The bathroom area will be tile. The rest of the home will be cork planks,” said Dr. Alison Whittemore, chair of the Department of Engineering. “Cork panels are more resistant to scratching.”

Furnishing for the home is expected to be “green” in fashion. Furniture items made out of recycled materials and fabrics with low VOC output (Volatile Organic Compounds) will most likely be chosen, Whittemore said.

The San Antonio Solar Tour showed the public how easily renewable energy sources can be accessed. It was a giant step towards informing the city of the small ways people can help in preserving the planet.

Andres Hernandez, a solar sales consultant from Austin, said there are many avenues to learning more about preservation and conservation. Many San Antonio officials have taken a special interest in these issues.

“It was an honor to be part of the Solar San Antonio tour, and a pleasure to talk about the House of CARDS with people,” Whittemore said. “I was pleased with the genuine interest of the community. Lots of little changes will make a big difference.”

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