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Ready, Get Set, Rebuild! SCU Students Reassemble Solar House in Washington, D.C.

Thursday, Oct. 1, 2009

SANTA CLARA, Calif., Oct. 1, 2009 - Excitement is building as Santa Clara University students rebuild their 800-square-foot solar-powered house at the nation's capital. They're putting their house together again after traveling 3,000 miles to Washington, D.C., for the U.S. Department of Energy's 2009 Solar Decathlon. The students are going up against 19 other college/university teams from the U.S., Canada, Germany, Puerto Rico, and Spain in the competition that determines the ultimate energy efficient home.

About 15 SCU students arrived onto the National Mall at midnight on Oct. 1 with their house, equipment, and tools in tow. They worked through the night, preparing the site and reassembling the house. The students worked so fast, they were among the first to finish reassembly.

"I've been up all night, but I don't really feel tired because I've been working the entire time. Plus, the adrenaline rush has been keeping me awake," says Ross Ruecker, SCU '09. "Just twelve hours ago, the National Mall was a blank slate, and now there are 20 houses sprawled out and 6 giant cranes in the air. It's pretty crazy."

"The coolest moment was when the cranes arrived at 4 a.m. to lift the houses off the trucks and onto the National Mall. It was exciting to see what the other teams have been working on,” says Allison Kopf, SCU '11. "Their homes look spectacular, so it’s going to be a tough competition."

Although the DOE limits the size of the home to be no more than 800-square-feet, every home is unique. Santa Clara University, along with California College of the Arts, designed a home that’s shaped similar to the letter "C" that wraps around an outdoor deck. The house has a greywater system, created by students, to filter and reroute water used in the washer and dishwasher to irrigate the landscaping. Inside, a monitoring system tracks energy and water consumption and production in real-time, which helps homeowners establish better habits. The students also created an iPhone application that allows them to control virtually all aspects of the house from thousands of miles away. It opens and closes windows and turns on and off the entertainment system, as well as the lights and appliances.

When the competition begins on Oct. 8, the students will have to use their home like any homeowner would by making dinner, doing laundry, and hosting a movie night for their neighbors. The ten areas of the competition are: architecture, engineering, market viability, communications, comfort, appliances, hot water, lighting, energy balance, and transportation. The winners will be announced on Oct. 16.

SCU will take the international spotlight at the opening ceremony when Allison Kopf, SCU's student project manager, joins Energy Secretary Steven Chu to help kick-off the competition on Oct. 8 at 1 p.m.

Watch a slide show of the house arriving at the National Mall in D.C.

Watch a video of cranes moving solar house and trucks heading to D.C.

Watch a slide show of SCU students disassembling solar house and cranes moving it onto the flatbed trucks.

Watch a video profiling some of the SCU students who built the house.

Watch a time lapse video showing the entire construction of the house.

Watch a slide show of the send-off celebration that took place on Sept. 1.

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