By Richard King
I am proud to be an American—and prouder yet to be an employee of the U.S. Department of Energy. We brought an inspiring and beneficial competition to the People’s Republic of China! By the end of the event, a quarter-million people will visit the competition houses displayed at Solar Decathlon China. The event has made a real impression on the government and people of Datong. I hope it leads to positive change.
Team UOW from the University of Wollongong in Australia held the winning trophy high this morning and rejoiced in a remarkable victory. Its entry was the first retrofitted house entered in a decathlon. Instead of designing and building a new house from the ground up, they took an old house and refurbished it. They added new insulation to the walls and attic, installed new windows, and changed some of the interior rooms for more functionality. The end result was a modern, very energy-efficient house that won the praise of everyone—especially the jurors—who went inside for a tour. This morning, the team was awarded first place in Architecture and Solar Application! I will remember them as the team from Down Under who always greeted you with a friendly “G’day, mate!”
Team SCUT from South China University of Technology and Huazhong University of Science and Technology took second place. It moved ahead of Sweden with its near-perfect performance. Team SCUT received the highest score in four of the performance-based competitions: Hot Water, Appliances, Home Entertainment, and Energy Balance. It also won third in the Architecture Contest. The team was overjoyed and so happy to take a top honor. I am sure people throughout China are proud of this team.
Team Sweden from Chalmers University of Technology won third place. The team was in the top of the standings throughout the competition and finished with a strong performance. I loved that you had to put your shoes in a basket by the door before entering their house. Then, after touring the house in your socks, you would look for your shoes in a basket by the back door. The house, designed for college students to live in, was enjoyed by all.
As a proud employee of the U.S. Department of Energy, I couldn’t be happier. We nurtured this event in America, watched it grow in Europe, and witnessed it reach new heights here in China. I am so glad to see our good work spread around the world.
There are so many people to thank for making the first Solar Decathlon China a success: The National Energy Administration, the City of Datong, sponsors, students, faculty, and the hundreds of volunteers who worked tirelessly. They deserve our deepest thanks and appreciation.
And the student decathletes, especially. They bring us so much hope for a better future.
Richard King is the director of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon.