Monday, October 5, 2009

Solar Decathlon 2009

Hard hat area, caution California men working
pure chaos around the proverbial glass house
VA Tech Team installing decking panels
VA Tech's Solar house
Cornell team with water filtration system of tall grasses
German Team

Every two years in October the national mall comes alive with architects, engineers, carpenters, landscapers... electricians and others who are busy at work rebuilding small houses. This year twenty teams from all over the country and some from other countries for the Energy Department's Solar Decathlon are setting up on the mall. I got a preview on Sunday October 4th and took a few pictures and had a few conversations with the crew members and one very nice orange bearded architectural professor from Wisconsin. The sun was slipping down towards the horizon and the teams were working very hard to get their buildings up, outfitted with solar panels and wired so they could be inspected and begin collecting solar energy to run their homes and a car by October 9th when they open to the public. I have fallen in love with this event. I don't know why exactly but it is such an optimistic experience to see real people working so hard to create a sustainable and energy neutral home right now, right here in DC.
Each team has a website with the story of their design construction and trip to DC as well as galleries of photos of the homes and some have movies too. They are all listed on this web site Get Smart Energy NOW! in an overview article : A Quick Cheat Sheet to Solar Decathlon I enjoyed looking over some of the team web sites once I had been down for my preview in person. I was surprised to see how much of the materials were recycled wood from grain towers and barns in the University of Illinois at Urbana's house for example.
Virginia Tech had a full 10 minute video about their house which was kind of interesting. This time the house looks very slick and shinny compared to the house that VA Tech. built in 2007 but you can find out about all the teams by going to the cheat sheet article. I am looking forward to returning to visit when the work is done and the houses are up and running 100% on their own power.

1 comment:

Emily said...

What an exciting and inspiring event! A solar decathlon is such a great way to bring together different states and students to showcase and promote solar technology. Thanks for the article!