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Solar Decathlon On The National Mall

Solar Decathlon on the National Mall
An aerial view of the solar village from the east end, looking west toward the Washington Monument, provides a new perspective. The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Team Missouri houses are on the right.
(cc) Richard King/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon

Twenty university-led teams have descended on the National Mall along with high-tech, high-efficiency solar-powered homes they have built for the 2009 U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon. Over 800 student competitors from the United States, Canada, Spain, and Germany will compete in the 2009 Solar Decathlon. The international competition takes place on the National Mall from October 8 to 18 and will showcase high-efficiency, solar-powered homes that include the latest high-tech solutions and money-saving features. The overall winner will be announced on Friday, October 16. This is the fourth time DOE has held the competition since 2002.

“More efficient buildings powered with renewable energy can and must play a major role in meeting the energy challenge, and these students will be at the forefront of that effort in the years ahead,” said Secretary Chu. “They represent the next generation of clean energy pioneers and entrepreneurs, and are a great example of what American innovation can accomplish. If you’re wondering what a clean energy future looks like, I invite you to come see it for yourself on the National Mall.”

Homes will open to the public beginning on October 9 and will be open for tours through October 18. The Solar Decathlon includes ten contests that evaluate the architecture, engineering, comfort, marketability, appliances, lighting, and other aspects of the teams’ houses. The teams will have to perform everyday tasks, including cooking, laundry, and washing dishes, to test the energy efficiency of their homes.

This year’s 20 university-led teams were chosen two years ago through a competitive process. Since then, teams have gathered their combined interdisciplinary talents to design and build the homes, but also to raise funds, furnish, outfit, decorate, and optimize the homes’ performance. The 20 university-led teams include:

2009 Solar Decathlon Teams:

  • Cornell University (Ithaca, NY)
  • Iowa State University (Ames, IA)
  • Penn State University (University Park, PA)
  • Rice University (Houston, TX)
  • Team Alberta (University of Calgary, SAIT Polytechnic, Alberta College of Art + Design, Mount Royal College) (Alberta, Canada)
  • Team Boston (Boston Architectural College, Tufts University) (Boston, MA)
  • Team California (Santa Clara University, California College of the Arts) (Santa Clara, CA)
  • Team Missouri (Missouri University of Science & Technology, University of Missouri) (Rolla, MO)
  • Team Ontario/BC (University of Waterloo, Ryerson University, Simon Fraser University) (Ontario, Canada)
  • Technische Universitaet Darmstadt (Winner, 2007 Solar Decathlon) (Darmstadt, Germany)
  • The Ohio State University (Columbus, OH)
  • The University of Arizona (Tucson, AZ)
  • Universidad de Puerto Rico (San Juan, PR)
  • Universidad Politecnica de Madrid (Madrid, Spain)
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Champaign, IL)
  • University of Kentucky (Lexington, KY)
  • University of Louisiana at Lafayette (Lafayette, LA)
  • University of Minnesota (Minneapolis, MN)
  • University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (Milwaukee, WI)
  • Virginia Tech (Blacksburg, VA)

Building efficiency is a major priority for the United States and the world. Residential buildings account for about 20 percent of U.S. energy use. The issue also has international dimensions, since China will build about as many square feet of building space in the next 15 years as exists in the entire United States today.

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