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SCU team puts out solar house welcome mat in Washington, D.C.

Washington D.C. – With the Washington Monument looking on approvingly, Santa Clara University's solar house threw open its doors to the public on Friday, Oct 12. With drummers and bagpipes, politicians and news media in attendance on the National Mall, the 2007 Solar Decathlon was underway.

As the decathletes – students, volunteers, and staff – from the 20 universities cheered, Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman said, "You are the reason we are here. Your dedication to architecture, engineering, and science is something to behold." The decathlon is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy.

From its deck to the outdoor furniture made from old wine barrels; from the student art on its walls to its functioning kitchen, SCU's solar house held its own as one of the 20 models on the National Mall – especially since it epitomized the California lifestyle and the architectural style of the Golden State.

This is the first year SCU has entered the biennial Solar Decathlon.  The team has been working on the project for more than a year, with broad support for the project coming from throughout the University.  More than 80 students volunteered their time on teams that focused on design, engineering, construction and communications.

On the weekend after the inauguration, hundreds of people lined up to get a glimpse inside the student-designed homes. Through the crowds and questions, SCU students gave tours to the visitors curious about the possibility of a solar lifestyle. The DOE expects more than 100,000 visitors to tour the solar village through Oct. 20.

After Friday's formal opening of the event, teams of professional architects will judge each entry on 10 different criteria, including market viability, communications, comfort, appliances, hot water and lighting. Results will be announced on Oct. 19, when an awards ceremony is planned.

A true decathlon, the competition includes a battery of 10 tests for a certain number of points. Each house must be well-rounded to score high, not only maintaining a successful energy balance, but also by being a truly practical house that's easy and comfortable to live in. A new trial this year tests market viability by asking teams to think about the real people who might want to buy such a home.

SCU's house features a solar-thermal-driven air conditioner, bamboo I-beams, and self-tinting windows.

"The building of this house is truly a collaborative effort between students, faculty, and the community, and demonstrates the power and promise of alternative energy," said James Bickford, an SCU senior and project manager of the University's Solar Decathlon team.

Among the teams SCU is competing against are: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cornell University, Texas A&M University, University of Colorado at Denver and Boulder, Pennsylvania State University, and Universidad Politécnica de Madrid.

After D.C., many of the solar houses will become education centers, while others will take root as private homes. SCU's entry will return to campus as a showcase for green living, and will serve as a research laboratory and teaching tool in the field of sustainable energy.

For team and competition updates:

Solar Decathlon Daily Journal & Blog

Read the Fortune magazine story on the Solar Decathlon and the Santa Clara entry

Read the USA TODAY story on the Solar Decathlon and the Santa Clara entry

Read the Christian Science Monitor story on the Solar Decathlon and the Santa Clara entry

Watch Fox KTVU's story on the SCU Solar Decathlon team in Washington, D.C.

About Santa Clara University
Santa Clara University, a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located 40 miles south of San Francisco in California's Silicon Valley, offers its 8,377 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, and engineering, plus master's and law degrees and engineering Ph.D.s. Distinguished nationally by one of the highest graduation rates among all U.S. master's universities, California's oldest operating higher-education institution demonstrates faith-inspired values of ethics and social justice. For more information, see

<p>The Solar Decathlon Team on the National Mall</p>

Tags: decathlon

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