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Solar Decathlon Europe

Solar Decathlon Europe is a prestigious competition that is being held for the first time outside of the United States and will take place in Madrid until June 27th. The houses that comprise the Villar Solar “are seventeen exemplary indicators of clearly sustainable eco-friendly housing that is also clearly comfortable,” remarked Spain’s Minister of Housing, Beatriz Corredor.

Corredor presided over the opening ceremony of the prestigious international competition, Solar Decathlon Europe, Madrid. Corredor was accompanied by Richard King, member of the U.S. Department of Energy and director of the American competition, Alberto Ruiz Gallardon, the Mayor of Madrid, and Javier Uceda, Rector of the Universidad Politecnica de Madrid.

“Today is an important day for our country,” Corredor stated in the ceremony, “because Solar Decathlon Europe offers us the opportunity to show that Spain is at the head of research in the area of renewable energies and their application to residential construction.” In that respect, the Minister of Housing underlined that the solar houses headlining the competition today are “clearly sustainable but also clearly comfortable,” pointing to the fact that this competition transmits the idea that eco-friendly homes “are not science fiction; they are habitable houses in which any one of us could live with hard-to-beat comfort levels.”

Corredor called for “indispensable implication and necessary commitment” from all levels of society so the technology, innovation, and R&D exhibited by these competing solar homes are applied to residential construction because, as the Minister reminded, “the techniques and materials used to build these houses have already been industrialized.” In this sense, Beatriz Corredor made special note of Solar Decathlon Europe’s initiatives to “raise public awareness throughout society about the importance of renewable energy, energy-efficient building, and the existence of technology that can aid in the reduction of energy consumption in our homes by promoting and stimulating the construction industries about standardized usage of solar technology in houses and buildings.” To conclude, Corredor lauded, “there is space for R&D in construction and here we have seventeen praiseworthy examples of it.”

Furthermore, the Minister of Housing mentioned the opportune coincidence of this solar competition and the Spanish Presidency of the European Union. “This is the best time to stress the need to continue advancing on the road of sustainable development to all member states and the rest of the world.”

Energy-Efficient Opening Ceremony

The 300 decathletes, university students, also protagonized and participated in the ceremony, marked by the Minister’s opening words of welcome in each of the six participating countries’ languages. Corredor wished them luck, recognized their “hard work” over the last few months, and hailed them as an example “of excellence and teamwork.” In addition, she thanked the U.S. Department of Energy’s support, the “valuable” collaboration and “the effort” put forth by the Universidad Politecnica de Madrid, and the willingness of the Madrid City Council and sponsorships of Saint-Gobain, Schneider Electric, Rockwool and Koemmerling.

All energy needed to carry out the opening ceremony came from power generated by the solar houses. During the competition, all solar energy surpluses not used by these homes for their self-sufficiency will be sent to the electric grid.

Solar Decathlon Europe is organized by the Spanish Ministry of Housing in collaboration with the Universidad Politecnica de Madrid and the support of the U.S. Department of Energy. Seventeen collegiate teams from seven countries and three continents are participating in this competition through their development of seventeen real, sustainable, self-sufficient, and comfortable, solar-powered houses. These solar homes are located in the “Villa Solar,” situated in the Madrid Rio area between the Royal Palace and the Manzanares River, with a total area of 30,000 m2. The grounds, provided by the Madrid City Council, have been prepared with funds provided by the Spanish Government through its Plan E.

Throughout the ten days of competition, the seventeen solar homes will be subjected to daily measurements and ten contests (“decathlon”) that will be evaluated by eighteen judges of international prestige.

The Seventeen Competing Solar Homes

The participating teams and their respective projects are: Arts et Metiers Paris Tech (France) Napevomo House; Fachhochschule fur Technik Berlin (Germany) Living Equia; Bergische Universitaet Wuppertal (Germany) Team Wuppertal; Universidad CEU Cardenal Herrera (Spain). Smlhouse; Ecole Superieure d’Architecture de Grenoble (France) Armadillo Box 6; Stuttgart University of Applied Sciences (Germany) Stuttgart Team; Aalto University (Finland) Luukku; Instituto de Arquitectura Avanzada de Cataluna (Spain) Fablabhouse; University of Applied Sciences Rosenheim (Germany) Ikaros; Tianjin University (China) Sunflower; Universidad de Sevilla (Spain) Solarkit; Universidad de Valladolid (Spain) La envolvente del Urcomante; University of Nottingham (United Kingdom) Nottingham House; University of Florida (United States) Re Focus; Universidad Politecnica de Cataluna (Spain) LOW3; Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University (United States) Lumenhaus; Tongji University (China) Bamboo House.

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