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Oct 03 2011

University Teams to Showcase Affordable, Energy Efficient Living in U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011

WASHINGTON, DC – Collegiate teams featuring over 4,000 students from around the world have descended on the National Mall’s West Potomac Park to showcase the highly energy efficient solar-powered houses they created for the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011. Today’s opening ceremony kicks off the biennial competition that challenges collegiate teams to design, build, and operate houses powered by the sun that are affordable, energy efficient, attractive, and easy to live in.

“The Solar Decathlon collegiate teams are showing how clean energy products and efficient building design can help families and businesses reduce energy use and save money,” said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “The event challenges talented students to become pioneers of clean energy technology and helps ensure that our nation remains competitive in the workforce of tomorrow.”

In addition to educating the public about how to save energy and save money, the Solar Decathlon also provides unique training to the next generation of engineers and architects. Over the last decade, the competition has prepared approximately 15,000 students to become future innovators and entrepreneurs in clean energy technology and efficient building design.

“This award-winning competition engages students from across the nation, and around the world, to develop the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the clean energy workforce,” said Arun Majumdar, Senior Advisor to Secretary Chu, while surrounded by hundreds of students and VIPs at the event’s opening ceremony. “These collegiate teams are demonstrating the talent and ingenuity required to expand our nation’s clean energy economy and keep America competitive in the race to solve our global energy challenges.”

Student teams in the 2011 competition hail from five countries across four continents, including the United States, Belgium, Canada, China and New Zealand. The competition involves 10 contests during 10 days that gauge each house’s performance, livability and affordability. New this year, an affordability contest rewards teams that build houses with estimated costs at or below $250,000. The teams will have to perform everyday tasks, including cooking, laundry, and washing dishes, to test the energy efficiency of their houses. The winner of the overall competition is the team that best blends affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency.

Thousands are expected to visit the houses, which will be open to the public free of charge from Friday, September 23, through Sunday, October 2. The houses are open from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm on weekends, and 10:00 am to 2:00 pm on weekdays. Visitors are able to tour the houses, gather ideas to use in their own homes, and learn how energy-saving features can help them save money today. The overall winner will be announced on Saturday, October 1. This Solar Decathlon is the fifth such competition since 2002.

This year’s university-led teams were chosen nearly two years ago through a competitive process. The selected teams and their projects represent a diverse range of design approaches, building technologies, and geographic locations, climates and regions – including urban, suburban and rural settings. They also aim to reach a broad range of target housing markets, including lower-income, disaster relief, retirement, and single family. Teams have gathered their combined interdisciplinary talents to design and build the houses, as well as to raise funds, furnish and decorate the houses, and optimize the houses’ performance.

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  • "Now, more than ever, Texans need to work together to conserve energy and to make more efficient use of the energy we consume. The TexasIsHot.org website is an extraordinary resource for people who want to save money and help conserve our precious natural resources..." State Rep. Rafael Anchía (D-Dallas)
  • "By partnering with the TexasIsHot Coalition we can extend our effort’s reach, leverage our resources, and ensure that Austin’s energy grid continues to be a test-bed for technologies, products, and services that will transform our state’s energy system." Brewster McCracken, Executive Director, Pecan Street Project
  • "The City of Houston is working harder than ever to make Houston green and energy efficient, but we need the help of every citizen. I would encourage everyone to take a moment to explore the TexasIsHot website to learn what we can all do to make Houston, and the rest of Texas, the green and energy efficient example for the rest of the nation." Mayor Annise Parker, Houston
  • "Energy efficiency is one of our top priorities. Partnering with the TexasIsHot Coalition will help us educate citizens and local businesses about energy-efficient practices in order to meet our goal of reducing residential and commercial electric use." Gavin Dillingham, Chief of Sustainable Growth – General Services Department, for the City of Houston
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  • "Because of its fast growth and hot summers, Texas has to get smarter about energy conservation. I applaud the efforts of Corpus Christi and TexasIsHot to help businesses and residents reap the benefits of increased efficiency." Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (D-McAllen)
  • "Energy efficiency is the cleanest, quickest and cheapest way to get smart about energy use, saving both money and the environment. I applaud the TexasIsHot Coalition in their effort to educate Texans about the benefits of energy efficiency..." Luke Metzger, Director, Environment Texas
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