The Solar Decathlon is a competition in which 20 teams of college and university students compete to design, build, and operate the most attractive, effective, and energy-efficient solar-powered house. The Solar Decathlon is also an event to which the public is invited to observe the powerful combination of solar energy, energy efficiency, and the best in home design.This is a very exciting event for me this year because my alma mater, the University of Cincinnati, has entered the competition for the very first time, and this morning they won 4th place in the "Architecture" category. This category is scored on three main factors: firmness, commodity, and delight (which is archi-speak for "how good does it look"). Observe:
The judges will go on to score teams in 9 other contests, which include Engineering, Market Viability, and "Getting Around", a contest in which teams charge street-legal electric vehicles purely on solar power derived from their house and then see how far they can go.
My friend 765 wrote a constructive critique of the Solar Decathalon competition, which essentially states that while the competition is great, it shows how far we've come and how far we need to go. I think that this is an important point to think about: I think we need to find a middle ground where we can design a living machine that performs like a spaceship but looks as good as a Modernist's house.
In the meantime, Bravo to all of the teams participating, and for putting so much time and effort into showing us how much we can really do with the technology that is available. With persistence and patience, perhaps we can work towards making the solar house a standard.....rather than an anomoly that shows up on the National Mall every 2 years!