ReadysetDC Previews: The Solar Decathlon


Words by: Allicia + Justin (ReadysetDC)
Photos by: Justin

Teams are still working full-force on the National Mall for the Solar Decathlon, an international design competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. Twenty teams selected from top colleges and universities across the world have designed and are building and livable energy-efficient solar-powered homes on the National Mall. In a series of ten contests, each team will be judged based on aesthetics and performance. As we face environmental challenges throughout the world, the Solar Decathlon will promote renewable energy, energy-efficiency, and efficient design.

Walking around yesterday, well into the evening, you could see that the teams were still working hard. Some teams seemed to be ahead of others. If you’re a fan of modern architecture, you’ll love what you see. Some of the homes use solar panels as the exterior wall siding. There are lush gardens (VT’s home has a pond). Compared to your average American home, these are small, yes, but most are the size of a moderately sized apartment. Aesthetics aside, these homes will produce equal or more energy from renewable sources than is consumed by its lighting, appliances and more. The lessons learned here go a long way in solving the challenges of climate change.

The public opening of the Solar Decathlon will debut this Friday, October 9th. Public tours and free consumer workshops instructed by industry professionals will also begin on opening day and close on October 14th. The opening ceremony will take place on Thursday, October 8th at 1 PM.

Solar Decathlon
National Mall
(Between 10th + 14th Streets, Madison + Jefferson Drives)
October 9th – 13th, 15th – 18th

Schedule (Click here for more information)
Mondays – Fridays: 11 AM – 3 PM
Saturdays – Sundays: 10 AM – 5 PM

Goals: “To educate the student participants—the “Decathletes”—about the benefits of energy efficiency, renewable energy and green building technologies. As the next generation of engineers, builders, and communicators, the Decathletes will be able to use this knowledge in their studies and their future careers.

  1. To raise awareness among the general public about renewable energy and energy efficiency, and how solar energy technologies can reduce energy usage.
  2. To help solar energy technologies enter the marketplace faster. This competition encourages the research and development of energy efficiency and energy production technologies.
  3. To foster collaboration among students from different academic disciplines—including engineering and architecture students, who rarely work together until they enter the workplace.
  4. To promote an integrated or “whole building design” approach to new construction. This approach differs from the traditional design/build process because the design team considers the interactions of all building components and systems to create a more comfortable building, save energy, and reduce environmental impact.
  5. To demonstrate to the public the potential of Zero Energy Homes, which produce as much energy from renewable sources, such as the sun and wind, as they consume. Even though the home might be connected to a utility grid, it has net zero energy consumption from the utility provider.”

For live updates from the field (including photos and video) follow Solar Decathlon on twitter. More photos are posted on ReadysetDC.