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Video: Solar Decathlon Is 10 Days of Imagination and Innovation

Sep 12, 2011

The houses have hit the road as the world’s greenest block party gets ready to kick off a 10-day celebration of solar innovation in the front yard of America’s capital.

The fifth Solar Decathlon — an event held every two years on the National Mall in Washington — invites collegiate teams from across the world to build solar homes that shatter thoughts of what is possible and refine our visions of the future.

The Department of Energy has invited teams from China to Denmark and from Miami to Middlebury, Vt., to design, build and ultimately set up shop on the Mall from Sept. 23 to Oct. 2. The premise is simple — build an affordable home that produces as much or more energy than it consumes. Looking good certainly adds to the experience, and efficiency is just as prized as sheer power.

Visitors are encouraged to tour the solar-powered homes, which include Team Hawaii’s wave-shaped design to Team California’s soft-shelled exterior. You can learn how each team approached the design challenge at the DOE site.

We know solar and efficiency enthusiasts will come. So will many legislative supporters who prize the technology and don’t mind the photo-op. But how about political players like Rep. Fred Upton, a Michigan Republican leading the investigation of Solyndra? And what about the legion of lawmakers that applaud the notion of solar technology but ultimately feel it isn’t worthy of federal money or policy? Will they stop by on Sept. 23 when the event kicks off?

Earlier this summer the DOE announced that it is considering offers to move the 2013 Solar Decathlon to another U.S. city. In a press release, the DOE said it wants to “expand the excitement generated by the competition and encourage participation from new communities.”

That’s great in principle. But what about the political cache that comes with an event that sits squarely at the geographic center of the legislative process? Keeping it in D.C. is a bigger statement than heading to Vegas.

I’ll be attending the Solar Decathlon’s second weekend, and we’ll be keeping you updated on the major happenings and the most cutting-edge innovations. Here’s to an event that captures the spirit of creativity and the quest for a better way. And here’s to keeping that event in the nation’s capital in 2013.

In the meantime, check out this video from the folks at Planet Forward.

The information and views expressed in this blog post are solely those of the author and not necessarily those of or the companies that advertise on this Web site and other publications. This blog was posted directly by the author and was not reviewed for accuracy, spelling or grammar.

Steve Leone has been a journalist for more than 15 years and has worked for news organizations in Rhode Island, Maine, New Hampshire, Virginia and California.


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