This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

October 10, 2007

Solar Decathlon Nears End of Assembly Phase, Prepares to Open

Secretary Bodman, Richard King, and two University of Illinois team members stand together laughing, with the team’s house and the adjacent MIT house in the background.

Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman and DOE's Richard King share a laugh with members of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign team. Secretary Bodman visited the Solar Decathlon on Friday, October 5th.
Credit: Ken Shipp/Solar Decathlon

The assembly of 20 solar homes on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., is quickly approaching completion, as the 2007 Solar Decathlon prepares to open to the public on October 12th. The Solar Decathlon is an international event in which DOE challenges university teams to design and build homes that run entirely on solar energy. The teams ship their partially constructed homes to the National Mall, assemble them, and then compete in ten contests, including architecture, engineering, market viability, communications, comfort, appliances, water heating, lighting, power generation, and the ability to get around in small electric cars that are powered by the houses. See the Solar Decathlon's "Contests and Scoring" page.

October 10th is the final day of assembly for the teams. Because several of the homes arrived late, assembly can be a greater challenge for those teams. For instance, the truck for California's Santa Clara University suffered a broken axle in Nebraska and didn't arrive until the night of October 5th, making it the last to arrive. The second-to-last arrival was the Kansas Project Solar House, which rumbled onto the National Mall on the afternoon of October 3rd (most houses arrived just after midnight that morning). But the Kansas house came largely pre-assembled, so the team was not concerned about the late arrival. Three other teams took a similar approach and already had their homes comfortably cool with air conditioning this weekend, providing a welcome respite from a string of hot days in our nation's capital. See the Solar Decathlon "Photos of the Day," the Web cams from the event, and the "Daily Journal" from DOE's Richard King.

After opening to the public on October 12th, the Solar Decathlon will be open through October 20th. The homes will be open weekdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends, with the exception of Wednesday, October 17th, when the houses will be closed for competition purposes. The first contest winners will be named on Monday, October 15th, and the overall winner will be announced next Friday, October 19th. Consumer workshops are also held during the event. DOE is the primary sponsor of the 2007 Solar Decathlon, which is also sponsored and managed by DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Other title sponsors include the American Institute of Architects; the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers; the National Association of Home Builders; the U.S. Green Building Council; BP; and Sprint. See the event schedule and sponsor information on the Solar Decathlon Web site.