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Growing Interest in SCU's Solar-Powered House

Chile has its sights set on Santa Clara University’s Refract House, the solar-powered home that won third place at the 2009 Solar Decathlon in Washington, D.C. last fall. Paul Simons, U.S. Ambassador to Chile, visited SCU on Jan. 27 and met with SCU President Michael Engh, S.J., School of Engineering Dean Godfrey Mungal, Mechanical Engineering Department Chair Timothy Hight, and Religious Studies Professor and faculty advisor for Team California, James Reites, S.J.

Ambassador Simons has been interested in Refract House since he saw students building it on campus last year. He hopes to use the house as a way to educate residents in Santiago, Chile about alternative energy and eco-friendly home construction. Ambassador Simons also discussed the strong support from area universities and industries for hosting the house in Chile. He hopes to use the house to help promote both U.S. and local solar and sustainable industries.

Chile isn’t the only contender, though. The San Diego Regional Sustainability Partnership and the City of Santa Clara have also expressed interest in the house. SCU has not yet made any decisions on the future of Refract House. However, SCU does plan to temporarily relocate the house across the street from San Jose’s City Hall so that it can be used as an education and demonstration center for solar and green building technologies. San Jose hopes to have Refract House ready for visitors by April.

Watch slideshow of Ambassador Simons' visit to SCU.

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