Whitman alum competes in Solar Decathlon

By John Son

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Photo by John Son.

Complete solar houses from scratch were built in DC for the Solar Decathlon. Photo by John Son.

The U.S. Department of Energy recently hosted the Solar Decathlon, a competition in which 20 schools design homes run only on solar power. David Martin (’06) represented Cornell University in the competition, which took place on the National Mall Oct. 8 to 18.

The Decathlon is a competition designed to increase the public’s awareness of energy issues and ways to decrease dependence on fossil fuels. Judges from the Department of Energy rated teams from colleges and universities from around the world on architectural design, market viability and engineering among other criteria.
Students designed, built, and deconstructed the homes on their respective campuses, then moved them to the Mall to be reconstructed. They were rated from Oct. 8-16, open to the public on Oct. 9-13 and 15-18, and disassembled Oct. 19-21.
Martin, a member of Cornell’s Solar Decathlon team since his freshman year in college, says the experience gave him significant leadership experience.
“We call the project a life-style, which it really is,” Martin said. “Running the project was like running a small company, and a wonderful opportunity for real-world experience.”
This year’s competition was the fourth Decathlon, the others taking place in 2002, 2005 and 2007.
Team Germany, or the team of Technische Universität Darmstadt, the 2007 winners, won again, with University of Illinois in second and Team California, consisting of Santa Clara University and the California College of the Arts in third.
Over 110,000 people visited the homes in this year’s Decathlon. The competition was a way of publicizing alternate forms of energy.
Some houses were so popular that they were, after being displayed on the Mall, purchased by independent buyers following their display on the Mall.
“We sold the house to a professor at University of Washington,” Martin said. “We sold it to cover the remained debt from the project, $150,000. I would say a little more than half the houses were sold.”
“The purpose of the competition is both a research and advertisement event for sustainable homes,” said Martin. “Teams invented new technologies and broadcasted many others to the US and world. I feel it has a tremendous impact on promoting sustainability.”

The Decathlon is a competition designed to increase the public’s awareness of energy issues and ways to decrease dependence on fossil fuels. Judges from the Department of Energy rated teams from colleges and universities from around the world on architectural design, market viability and engineering, among other criteria.

Students designed, built and deconstructed the homes on their respective campuses, then moved them to the Mall to be reconstructed.

Martin, a member of Cornell’s Solar Decathlon team since his freshman year in college, says the experience gave him significant leadership experience.

“We call the project a lifestyle, which it really is,” Martin said. “Running the project was like running a small company, and a wonderful opportunity for real-world experience.”

Team Germany, or the team of Technische Universität Darmstadt, the 2007 winners, won again,  University of Illinois came in second and Team California, consisting of Santa Clara University and the California College of the Arts placed third.

Over 110,000 people visited the homes in this year’s Decathlon. The competition was a way of publicizing alternate forms of energy.

Some houses were so popular that they were purchased by independent buyers after being displayed on the Mall.

“We sold the house to a professor at University of Washington,” Martin said. “We sold it to cover the remaining debt from the project: $150,000. I would say a little more than half the houses were sold.”

This year’s competition was the fourth Decathlon; the others took place in 2002, 2005 and 2007.

“The purpose of the competition is both a research and advertisement event for sustainable homes,” said Martin. “Teams invented new technologies and broadcasted them to others in the US and the world. I feel it has a tremendous impact on promoting sustainability.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email