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I can’t believe its taken me so long to get this up.  The Solar Decathlon is over and done for another year, with Maryland winning and Purdue placing second, New Zealand coming in third and Middlebury placing fourth.   If you want to look at good photos, instead of my distinctly amateur ones, Inhabitat has some great photos of all the houses. Also, Inhabitat is a pretty great website generally.

For those who don’t know, the Solar Decathlon is an annual competition sponsored by the Dept. of Energy.  Teams from colleges and universities across the world design and build a house, then disassemble it, ship it to DC, and reassemble it in five days on the Mall.  Houses can be a maximum of a thousand square feet and should be as energy-efficient as possible.  In the past, there has not been an affordability component, but this year, teams lost points for spending more then $250,000 on their house.

Many of the houses have a particular spin: the Parsons house was developed in conjunction with Habitat for Humanity; Middlebury’s house is going to be a dorm; the Urbana-Champagne house was designed to be used for Midwestern disaster relief (flooding, tornadoes, etc).  They all have sparkling interiors and clever methods for heat exchange, ventilation, etc, and most of the teams scored in the 900s out of a possible 1000. I have to say, though, that to me, Maryland’s house really stood out.  They treated their house like a watershed – a concept I pitched to the city of Philadelphia earlier this year, although I did it far less elegantly- and actually, the name of their house is the WaterShed, which is pretty clever.  I was also rooting for Appalachian State, Middlebury, and New Zealand, and I was really psyched by some of the post-Decathlon reuse.

Here are a couple photos, but I urge you to click the link above. Its worth it.

This one had a murphy bed.the concrete house was heavier than the rest of the houses combinedThis one I liked (although I was in the minority), but I thought it was super derivative of Ronchamp, the Corbu church:

Image courtesy DeviantArt.Com

It was a really cool thing to go see all these houses, and I’m super glad I got a chance.  Congrats to the winning teams and to everyone who managed to put a house together, haul it to the Mall, and compete.  They all looked pretty flawless to me.