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

October 01, 2002

University of Colorado Takes Early Lead in Solar Decathlon

The University of Colorado at Boulder (CU) has taken an early lead in the Solar Decathlon competition, now underway in Washington, D.C. At press time on Tuesday evening, CU held a 37-point lead over second-placed Auburn University, which in turn was holding a scant 22-point lead over third-seated University of Virginia. The competition remains tight, with six teams within 100 points of first place, and the constantly updated scores can shift the team rankings rapidly. See the Scoring Summary on the Solar Decathlon Web site.

The Solar Decathlon is a team competition among universities to design and build the most energy-efficient solar-powered homes. Fourteen teams from throughout the United States and Puerto Rico have brought their solar homes to the National Mall for the competition, which began on September 26th and continues through October 5th. The winning team will be the one that most successfully blends aesthetics and modern conveniences with maximum energy production and efficiency in its solar-powered home.

As the name implies, the Solar Decathlon includes 10 events on which each team will be judged. Surprisingly, CU placed in only one of the three events that have been completed, winning the "Graphics and Communication" contest; Auburn University came in second and Crowder College placed third. At present, CU appears to be holding the lead due to the ongoing energy performance of the team's house.

In the other contests, Virginia Polytechnic Institute took first place in the "Design Presentation and Simulation" contest, followed in turn by Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Maryland. The University of Virginia, currently in third place, won the "Design and Livability" contest, a high-scoring event that was judged by a panel of nationally known architects. The University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez placed second in the event, and the University of Texas at Austin came in third.

Two weeks ago, this newsletter mentioned the "daunting task" of transporting all the solar houses to the nation's capital. Lest you think we were exaggerating, check out the "Contest Diaries" now posted on the Web site. Among other things, you'll learn about the logistic challenges of oversized truck loads and how the University of Puerto Rico's house had to dodge a Caribbean storm! Meanwhile, the site continues to be updated daily with new photos, and-thanks to some fancy instrumentation and wireless Web technology-the team rankings are updated every 15 minutes based on energy measurements taken throughout each of the houses. See the Solar Decathlon Web site.

Speaking of Caribbean storms, Hurricane Isidore brought some rain to the competition on Friday but otherwise passed by without incident, and Hurricane Lili appears unlikely to affect the competition. High temperatures may pose a greater challenge for the decathletes, as temperatures today are expected to peak in the high 80s-we'll see which teams can keep their cool! See the Weather Channel forecast.