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Photo of Solar Decathlon Director Richard King being interviewed by a videographer.

Clarity, Passion Score Communications Contest Win for Middlebury College

Friday, September 30, 2011

By Carol Anna

With exemplary communications materials, public tours, and website, Middlebury College received first place in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon Communications Contest today.

“Middlebury College, this year’s winner of the Communications Contest, is a very authentic team that conveyed the best of New England architecture. This team’s holistic approach to communications was refreshing; they achieved in all aspects of communications—not just in one area,” said Ryan Park, director of business development for REC Solar Inc., who presented the award on behalf of the Communications Contest jurors. “This team made renewable energy technologies familiar to the public, which we believe will help people more easily embrace these technologies. And isn’t that what it’s all about?”

Appalachian State University received second place for its contagious passion and enthusiasm. The jurors felt the team offered the best menu of creatively explained ideas that visitors could take home and implement today.

Winning third place, the University of Maryland presented consistent messaging, strong educational exhibit components, and a compelling story.

The Communications contest jury evaluated:

  • Web content quality, appropriateness, and originality
  • Video walkthrough information, the accuracy of the representation of the as-built house on the competition site, accessible captioning, clarity of the audio narrative, and creativity
  • The quality of onsite graphics, photos, displays, and signage
  • The delivery of messages to target audiences and people of all abilities
  • The use of innovative methods to engage audiences, including Web site visitors and people waiting to tour a house.

“Some people might wonder why communications is included in a competition to design and build solar houses. It’s important because communication is our tool for educating the greater population about everything we’re working toward with the Solar Decathlon,” said Richard King, Solar Decathlon director. “In fact, communication is the most powerful thing you can do to spread our message across the globe. We’re not going to succeed if people don’t know what we’re doing. We’re here to show our houses and tell our story. Otherwise, there’s no reason to be here.”

For full scoring details, visit the Communications Contest scores page.

Carol Anna is the communications manager of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon.

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