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UM Taps the Power of the Sun

UM Taps the Power of the Sun

Roger Hughlett

Baltimore Business Journal Staff

October 4, 2002

They built it, tore it down and are in the process of putting it all back together again.

A group of students at University of Maryland, College Park built a solar-powered house. And they are competing next week against student teams from 13 other universities in the U.S. Department of Energy's national "Solar Decathlon" being held on the Mall in Washington, D.C., through Oct. 6.

The 500-square-foot house, which was designed and constructed by the University of Maryland students, uses solar energy to power everything in it.

Building a solar-powered house isn't cheap. The home cost more than $200,000 to build — most of that was covered by local and national companies. The federal government gave each team $5,000 to start their projects.

Bethesda-based Clark Construction and Towson-based Dewalt Tools, a division of Black & Decker Corp., provided equipment, materials or cash.

Linthicum-based BP Solar, which designs and manufactures solar power equipment, provided technology for most of the teams.

Sarah Howell, director of environmental and corporate communications for BP Solar, said the contest is showing the world just how far solar power has come in the past two decades.

"This isn't something some hippies are putting on their houses," Howell said. "This is something people in suburban Maryland are using on their homes."

BP Solar (http://www.bpsolar.com) is considered one of the top solar companies in the world with more than $240 million sales last year. And when so many tech firms are slimming or shutting down, BP Solar is expanding. The company employs about 1,400 folks now.

October 4, 2002

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