Proudly sporting their university colors, 19 teams opened the front doors of their solar-powered homes to the public for the first time last week at the official launch of Solar Decathlon 2011 – a biannual competition managed by the U.S. Department of Energy.
Vantage points from these homes are exceptional. From either front or back patios in the West Potomac Park section of the National Mall in Washington, D.C. they may have the Jefferson Memorial or the Washington Monument framed among trees. A built in water feature is the Potomac River just a few steps outside their front doors. It’s the university homes that will be the featured attractions in D.C. for the next 10 days, however.
Applied Materials CEO, Mike Splinter met team members, toured homes and heard about the ingenious innovations – an indoor waterfall to control humidity and a canopy of bi-facial solar panels over an entryway – and whimsical designs. Team California’s house with its “pillow” exterior and New Zealand’s entry that found students shearing sheep and using the wool as insulation in the walls were tour highlights. Students also emphasized practical applications for their projects like Team New York’s plan to install its home as a “penthouse with a purpose” on already existing buildings, Team Belgium’s “build it yourself” cube house, and Team Parson’s commitment to donate their house to be used as a Habitat for Humanity home in Washington, D.C.
As a long-time supporter of the U.S. competition and founding partner of the first Solar Decathlon in China scheduled for 2013, Applied Materials’ President of Applied Solar, Charlie Gay, gave brief remarks during the opening ceremony where the student decathletes were honored as the clean energy leaders of tomorrow who are using frontier technologies to change the world. Based on their designs, we can look forward to a great diversity of architectural surprises as we move into a cleaner, greener future!
In addition to celebrating the work of the next generation of energy enthusiasts, the Washington D.C. event reinforced that collaboration between the government, business and academic sectors is key to addressing the most pressing energy problems of our day.
If you can’t visit D.C. this week, check out the most recent photos and postings from the teams. Take virtual tours of the house … and cast your vote for the People’s Choice Award at the Solar Decathlon website.
Visit our blog to learn more about Applied’s history with the Solar Decathlon.
Image: Applied Materials CEO, Mike Splinter, (left) at the 2011 Solar Decathlon in Washington D.C.