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

September 10, 2002

Secretary Abraham Welcomes Solar Decathletes to Washington, D.C.

Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham extended his welcome on September 10th to the "solar decathletes"-fourteen teams of college students from around the United States and its territories that have arrived in Washington, D.C., for the first-ever Solar Decathlon. Each team faced the daunting task of transporting a solar-powered home to the nation's capital and now must construct it within six days.

The Solar Decathlon is a team competition among universities to design and build the most energy-efficient solar-powered homes. The partially constructed homes arrived on the National Mall by September 18th in preparation for the construction phase, which runs from September 19th through the 24th. The competition officially begins on September 26th and continues until October 5th. The winning team will be the one that most successfully blends aesthetics and modern conveniences with maximum energy production and efficiency in their solar-powered home.

As the name implies, the Solar Decathlon includes 10 events on which each team will be judged: graphics and communications; design presentation and simulation; design and livability; "The Comfort Zone" (maintaining indoor comfort during the competition); refrigeration; hot water; lighting; home business (the homes must include an office space with working home-office equipment); "Getting Around" (excess power from each home is used to charge an electric car); and "Energy Balance" (homes should ideally end the contest with the same charge on the home battery system as when they started).

The so-called "Solar Village" on the National Mall will be open for public tours throughout the competition and on the following Sunday, October 6th. Sponsors of the Solar Decathlon include DOE, BP Solar, Home Depot, EDS, the American Institute of Architects, and DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory. See the DOE press release and the Solar Decathlon Web site.

Looking for a solar event closer to home? The 2002 National Tour of Solar Buildings is coming your way on October 5th. Tours are organized locally and are available in all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia. The American Solar Energy Society (ASES) and DOE are the main sponsors of the event. See the ASES Web site.