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

September 07, 2005

Solar Tours Come to 43 States and D.C. on October 1st

Thousands of homes, schools, and businesses that use solar energy will open their doors to the public on October 1st for the National Solar Tour, sponsored by the American Solar Energy Society (ASES) with support from DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. The tour, in its tenth year, is benefiting from growing public interest in affordable solar power and energy efficiency as energy prices reach new highs. Solar tours in hundreds of communities attracted tens of thousands of tour takers last year. This year, there will be open houses in 43 states plus the District of Columbia. And if you live in a state without a solar tour, there's still time to organize one! See the ASES press release and state-by-state list of solar tours.

Photo of a crane lowering a roof onto the boxy steel frame of a future solar home.

Florida International University's solar home takes shape in preparation for the 2005 Solar Decathlon.
Credit: Yong Tao/FIU

A week later, a highly unusual community of solar homes will open its doors to the public in Washington, D.C., as DOE's second Solar Decathlon gets underway. Fifteen teams of college and university students from across the United States—plus teams from Canada, Puerto Rico, and Spain—will converge on the National Mall in late September and proceed to assemble innovative homes that run entirely on solar power. On October 7th, the Solar Decathlon officially begins and the 18 small homes open to the public. The homes will remain open to the public through October 16th, but will be closed on October 12th for part of the competition.

As the name suggests, the Solar Decathlon consist of ten contests: each solar home will be judged on its architecture and dwelling design (the "livability" and "buildability" of the home); each home will have to demonstrate its ability to maintain heat and humidity at comfortable levels, power a number of appliances, supply ample indoor lighting, and power an electric car, while relying as little as possible on the energy stored in the home's batteries; and each team will be judged on how well the team analyzed their home and documented the design process and on how well they communicate their achievement to the public through Web sites and public tours. The overall winner of the Solar Decathlon will be announced on October 14th. See the Solar Decathlon Web site.