Santa Clara University


SCU Selected for 2009 Solar Decathlon

SCU Selected for 2009 Solar Decathlon

Here we go again! The U.S. Department of Energy announced in January that Santa Clara University will be one of the 20 collegiate teams competing in the 2009 Solar Decathlon on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The School of Engineering cited its successful third-place finish in the 2007 competition and the University’s commitment to scholarship in sustainability as inspiration for submitting a proposal to enter the event which calls for teams to design and build a solar-powered house that is highly energy efficient and capable of providing all the amenities found in modern homes.

Once again a team of highly qualified, multi-disciplinary students will be guided by a faculty team with expertise in thermal design of buildings, solar thermal systems, photovoltaic systems, sustainable structural engineering, marketing, and project management.

Particularly exciting for the School of Engineering is a new collaboration with California College of the Arts’ architecture program. Students and faculty members from CCA will join the team as experts in architectural design of low-energy buildings and trends in sustainable architecture. West Valley Community College’s pre-architecture program will also assist with the required documentation of the designs. As the only team in the 2007 competition without an architecture school, SCU placed 18th in that category, while placing in the top 10 of the other 9 contests.

Students will work alongside faculty advisors researching new developments such as the cutting-edge bio-based building materials and PV panel-level inverters and monitoring that will be unveiled in the 2009 house. Extensions to the engineering innovations of the team’s successful 2007 technologies will also be implemented. SCU’s ties to many leading Silicon Valley technology companies and solar energy interest groups will ensure access to the resources and state-of-the-art technologies being developed here in what is increasingly being hailed as “Solar Valley.”

Participation in the 2009 Solar Decathlon is only one component of the School of Engineering’s promotion of sustainable studies. Numerous undergraduate and graduate courses and seminars are being offered to encourage advancement and leadership in this arena. The School of Engineering is actively raising funds to support this project and its entire sustainability program; we invite alumni and friends to join with us in support of these endeavors. Please contact Leman Ethem for more details at 408-554-2724.

For information on the Solar Decathlon, visit and