Markkula Center of Applied Ethics

Ethics Decathlon:
The Solar Decathlon Judging Categories Viewed Ethically

By Allie Sibole

Santa Clara University has been a participant in the U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon for three years. The contest challenges collegiate teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive.

While the Solar Decathlon is a wonderful opportunity for research, collaboration, and innovation, it is also a competition that must result in a single winter. The Solar Decathlon consists of 10 categories of equal weight that decide who will emerge victorious.

There is no category for ethics, sustainability, or values. My purpose in this analysis is to critically reflect on how these factors have influenced the SCU team's decisions in each of these categories. In particular, I focus on choices the team has made that reflect an emphasis on ethical conduct that sets Santa Clara and its values apart from the other schools in the competition. My analysis follows the existing 10 categories:

Affordability

Appliances

Architecture

Comfort Zone

Communications

Energy Balance

Engineering

Entertainment

Hot Water

Market Appeal

Allie Sibole produced this analysis as part of her work as a 2012-13 Environmental Ethics Fellow at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics. The fellowship is supported by a gift from John and Joan Casey.

June 2013


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