Today, Oct. 8, the biennial Solar Decathlon opened up to the public at Orange County Great Park in Irvine, Calif. The competition challenges college teams from around the world to build solar-powered homes. This year 14 teams of universities from five countries across two continents are competing in 10 events to create homes that are energy-efficient, comfortable and cost-effective.
The opening ceremonies today were overseen by the U.S. Department of Energy Secretary, Ernest Moniz. “These inspiring collegiate teams show the world how energy-efficient building design and clean energy products available today can help families and businesses save money by saving energy,” Moniz said. “The event provides student competitors with unique real-world training to become the clean energy workforce of the future and helps ensure that our nation remains competitive in the global race for clean energy.”
It’s the second time since its inception that it’s been away from the U.S. capitol. But as a public event since its inception in 2002, the event has drawn hundreds of thousands of visitors and more than 20,000 student participants. Students that have built, designed, transported and re-built the homes at the competition site. The homes show how tomorrow’s architects, engineers, builders and entrepreneurs can create the next generation of homes that are energy-efficient, solar-powered and comfortable using current and upcoming technologies.
This year’s houses are designed with affordability in mind and features a contest that challenges the student teams to build the houses for $250,000 or less—even with the solar panels and other energy efficient technologies. Teams will have to cook, wash clothes and dishes in the homes and the energy use associated with the tasks will be monitored to see how efficiently energy is used. “The winner of the overall competition is the team that best blends affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency,” the DOE said.
People can visit the houses from Oct. 8 to Oct. 11 and from Oct. 15 to Oct. 18. Visitors can see the ingenuity that went into the homes and see how they might be able to adapt certain aspects of the homes for their everyday use.
The homes will be closed to the public to compete in the challenges. Some of the challenges are objective, like the cost and energy use challenges. Others, like livability and comfort are judged. The winners of the challenges and the overall challenge will be announced on Oct. 17.Tweet