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2011 Solar Decathlon


SeaDawg
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We just got back from Orlando and the International Builders Show.

The best part of the show, to me, was the time we spent with the students designing the 20 new solar, zero energy homes for the upcoming Solar Decathlon in the Washington DC metro area this fall.

Students from 20 universities, vetted from initial entries, will compete for the best, affordable, small (600-1000 square foot living space) home, with amazing regionally inspired designs. All the designs we saw in the models represented regional vernacular design spun in a contemporary fashion, along with eco inspired management of energy and water.

Paul and I spent two cold and sloggy days in the frigid rain in 2009 touring the Decathlon homes, and learned a lot.

We're thinking about a rally this fall in Virginia, with a focus on solar and energy responsibility. With so many Oliver owners already using solar, or thinking about it, we thought it could be a natural.

Anyone interested?

The Decathlon is the last week of September, concluding October 2, I think. The traditional location is the national mall, but will be moved to somewhere else in the DC area this year because of the impact of the thousands of visitors in the past, and the set of the twenty houses moved from campus by truck to the Decathlon site.

 

We'd love to get a group together and tour. We had a wonderful, educational time in 2009.

After the Decathlon, thinking about a trip down through the Shenendoah National Park, and on thru the Blue Ridge Parkway.

 

What do you think?

 

Sherry

 

PS Here's a link to the Decathlon site: http://www.solardecathlon.gov/

sponsored by the DOE

We are lucky enough to have two teams from Florida: Team Florida, a group of northern Universities, and a bright group from Florida International in Miami as well. Each team of the 20 Universities selected has a blog and website. You may be interested in following the group from your region, as well.

2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12
 

 

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  • 8 months later...
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Once again, the Solar Decathlon was a great experience. The weather was perfect this year for the two days that we toured the small, zero energy homes constructed by 19 college teams. (20 were approved for the competition, Hawaii dropped out due to financial issues.) All the teams had worked for 18 months to two years to create their compact (maximum 1000 square foot) homes utilizing the sun for energy, heating and cooling, and hot water. Their inventiveness and enthusiasm is quite energizing.

 

Sadly, our two Florida teams didn't fare too well, but their houses were well-engineered and creative. Hot water issues left Team Florida at the bottom of the list, and Florida International had moved up to 11 from 16 when we left. Both houses also had to conform to Florida's stringent building codes, which added to the expense of construction. Affordability was a key issue this year, and rightly so. Clean energy powered homes will only become the norm when affordable. Still, both Florida homes ranked in our favorites from a design standpoint, as well as Appalachian state, New Zealand, and the Parsons/Stevens house, among others. Parsons/Stevens built the first story of a Habitat for Humanity house; the Deanwood HH is building the second story.

 

More info at solardecathlon.gov, with lots of great videos and photos. Next US decathlon will be 2013; the European version is next summer in 2012, in Spain.

 

We camped at Greenbelt National Park for three nights. No hookups, but decent sized spaces, only $16 a night (half with the geezer pass....), and a few miles to the Metro station for a stress-free ride to downtown DC. More on Greenbelt Park later in the camping forum.

 

Sherry

2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12
 

 

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We had a great time. The ideas, creativity, and implementation were inspiring, but especially the conversations with the students who planned and built the homes. We were also encouraged that the DOE is looking heavily at Affordability and Market Appeal in the ratings. In the past Decathlon, the house that won was totally out of reach, entirely clad in solar panels--not just the roof, but all exterior walls, putting it totally out of reach for any family's budget.

 

I have some photos from each of the past two decathlons, but the professional photos, and the students' photos are probably better. You can see them at solardecathlon.gov, where all the information from all the years is contained.

 

Sherry

2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12
 

 

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Pam (and others),

the Solar Decathlon has moved to California, since 2013, south of Irvine, CA. Perhaps we'll see you there in 2015.

I have a niece in grad school in San Diego. Could be a good combined trip... We have always wanted to take our trailer west. Everything just gets in the way of the long trips beyond the Mississippi.

Sherry

2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12
 

 

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And for anyone thinking of traveling to Europe this summer, Solar Decathlon Europe (third one), will being June 27 in Versailles, France, after two successful decathlons hosted by Spain. The Decathlon Europe runs till July 14.

Sherry

 

http://www.solardecathlon2014.fr/en

2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12
 

 

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