Solar Decathlon House Moves to the Mall

With a crane, a forklift, a few flatbed trucks, and even more strong backs and arms, the Solar Decathlon team moved their house today from the edge of the University of Maryland campus to the National Mall in Washington, DC.

The Solar Decathlon, the The U.S. Department of Energy's student competition to design and operate the most attractive and effective solar-powered house, officially begins on September 26. But lots of work went into the project long before that.

The team of more than 50 Solar Decathletes, undergraduate students from mechanical engineering, civil engineering, electrical engineering, architecture, urban planning, computer science, and one from geography, began working on the design in January 2001. They began construction of the home in April 2002, and worked through the summer to complete the house. They were also solely responsible for the funding of the house, which totalled $200,000, soliciting donations and in-kind services from businesses.

The DOE competition requires that the home use only solar power to operate the kitchen, lighting, washer and dryer, home office, and vehicle, all while being comfortable for everyday living.

The Maryland house is designed to collect the maximum amount of solar energy for its 800 sq. ft. size. 96 solar panels on the roof convert sunlight to electricity, with an average of 20 kW hours per day. Batteries will store excess power that can run the house and all of its appliances for at least two days.

Published September 18, 2002