Last week; October 12 – 20 to be exact was the 2007 Solar Decathlon. The decathlon is a huge competition where 20 teams of college and university students are challenged to dream up, design, build, and operate a house but not just any old house; as the name implies it must be solar-powered.
What the name does not completely imply is that to win the home must also be the most attractive, effective, and energy-efficient solar-powered house.
The second part of The Solar Decathlon is that the public is invited to view the homes and learn about the power of solar. The event takes place on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. This competition is no fly-by-night operation either. Team proposals requests for the decathlon are released during the previous decathlon and teams have about two years to prepare. For instance RFPs were released at this (2007) decathlon and have to be turned in by December 7th and the next decathlon takes place in 2009. So it’s a big deal.
The University of Colorado took home the trophy two times over; winning in 2002 and 2005 but not this year.
The winners of the 2007 Solar Decathlon were…
First place: Technische Universität Darmstadt
Technische Universität Darmstadt from Germany scored big all over with the judges saying that their desig, “Pushed the envelope on all levels.” They scored as high as possible on innovation, gained props from the lighting jury for how it twinkled at night (really it looks great at night — their website’s down for some reason but they have some beautiful nighttime photos so I’d visit). They were also one of seven teams to score a perfect 100 points for energy balance. Inhabitat actually had one of the best posts on the winning house so visit them to learn more.
Second Place: University of Maryland
Props, props, and more props to Maryland…
“Maryland won the Communications contest and was second in Architecture, Market Viability, and Lighting, The Communications Jury praised their excellent Web site and house tour. The Architecture Jury said the house definitely belonged in the top tier. The Lighting and Market Viability juries also had high praise. They were one of seven teams to score a perfect 100 points in the Energy Balance contest.”
Third Place: Santa Clara University
(The kitchen almost complete; with bamboo cabinets and recycled ceramic tiles!)
This team was one of just five teams to score a perfect 100 points in the Hot Water contest and one of seven teams to score a perfect 100 points in the Energy Balance contest. Their goal was functionality, elegance, and innovation which clearly they achieved — as far as exterior visuals I’d say this team did a spectacular job. They had cool extras like insulation made of blue jeans and even a good story for the grandkids as they almost didn’t make it to the Solar Decathlon. One of their transport trucks broke an axle and delayed them by three days. Obviously they made it in time to place.
These were the winning teams but really all the teams are winners. This event is a huge deal and really showcases what solar can accomplish. In terms of having a pure offbeat nature my favorites were:
[Exterior photos by Jim Tetro, Solar Decathlon]