College Students Flex Energy Muscles

Reader Contribution by Jaime Netzer

Last week in Washington, D.C., 20 teams from colleges and universities participated in the 2007 Department of Energy Solar Decathlon competition. The decathlon is just what it sounds like: 10 contests that all focus on creating a completely solar-powered, attractive and energy-efficient home.

Teams from all around the country and places as far away as Spain and Germany spent months preparing for, designing and constructing their solar-powered homes. 20 competitors put their homes to the test on the National Mall. Judges assigned scores in ten different contests, including architecture, engineering, lighting, and comfort. In addition, teams had to use the energy produced by their homes to power electric vehicles. They were awarded points based on how many miles they could get out of their cars.

Technische Universitat Darmstadt from Germany took first place in the contest, which wrapped up Oct. 20. They were followed by the University of Maryland and Santa Clara University. The Darmstadt team won the architectural, lighting and engineering contests, and was one of seven teams to score a perfect 100 in the energy balance contest.

Final scores and standings of the competition can be found here.

Alternative energy may well be the greatest challenge facing today’s generation, and the Solar Decathlon is a way for students to learn about solar energy today what they can teach their peers and children tomorrow. The Solar Decathlon is already accepting submissions for 2009’s contest.