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

Solar Decathlon Blog - Solar Decathlon 2015

Below you will find Solar Decathlon news from the Solar Decathlon 2015 archive, sorted by date.

Solar Decathlon Sponsors Share the Spotlight

Monday, August 25, 2014

By Carol Laurie

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon captures the attention of millions of people worldwide. As partners of the event, Solar Decathlon sponsors share this spotlight and gain outstanding exposure—onsite, online, in print, and over the air.

In 2013 alone, the Solar Decathlon achieved the following worldwide media coverage:

  • Total media impressions:  2 billion+
  • Total media stories: 2,400+
  • Online articles: 1,750+
  • Print articles: 350+ in 150 publications
  • Broadcast: 200+ television stories and 150+ radio interviews
  • Media attendance: 225 media onsite.

The Solar Decathlon also has impressive digital reach, with social media driving traffic to the website, where sponsors are recognized.

  • Solar Decathlon 2013 website: 3.2 million page views and 500,000 visitors
  • Facebook: 15,500+ fans
  • Twitter: More than 13,000 followers
  • YouTube: 1,200+ subscribers and 1 million+ video views
  • Flickr: 2.8 million overall image views
  • Instagram: 950 tagged photos by public.
Photo of a group of cheering people and a ribbon falling away after being cut by a woman holding a pair of giant scissors.

Solar Decathlon sponsors receive exposure to thousands of visitors and volunteers throughout the Solar Decathlon village. Top-level sponsors also have the opportunity to play an active role in ceremonies, such as this ribbon cutting, which opened Solar Decathlon 2013. Credit: Eric Grigorian/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon

In addition, thousands of people visit the event in person to tour the competition houses. During the eight-day public exhibit in 2013:

  • 64,000 visitors took more than 300,000 house tours
  • More than 3,000 middle-school and high-school students and teachers attended Education Days
  • 1,200 volunteers donated 7,700 hours.

Throughout the Solar Decathlon village—on signage, in the Visitors Guide, and even on volunteer T-shirts—event sponsors receive exposure to thousands of visitors and volunteers. Depending on the level of sponsorship, sponsors can even receive outdoor exhibit space, speaking roles in ceremonies, co-branding opportunities, and more.

Increased exposure is just one of many ways Solar Decathlon sponsors benefit from partnering with this award-winning competition. Learn more by visiting our Sponsor page.

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



Solar Decathlon Sponsors Make Everything Possible

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

By Carol Laurie

U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon sponsors know a good thing when they see it. After all, the Solar Decathlon is more than an award-winning competition and highly popular public exhibit. It’s also a proven workforce development program that prepares collegiate students for careers in clean energy. The Solar Decathlon uses blended methods (including classroom instruction and real-world application) to teach science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) for building systems design and operation.

Solar Decathlon sponsors have a shared commitment to the goals of this inspiring competition, including STEM education, workforce development, and clean energy solutions. And in addition to supporting the goals that matter most to them, these sponsors have the opportunity to fulfill a variety of Solar Decathlon event needs.

For example, one of the most publicly visible sponsorship needs is event promotion. This sustaining-level sponsorship contribution will help drive attendance to the eight-day exhibit in Southern California through traditional and digital media outreach. In return, the official Solar Decathlon 2015 event promotion sponsor will receive top-level sustaining sponsor benefits, including high-profile recognition through online and traditional media, co-branding opportunities, and an extensive onsite presence. With these benefits, the Solar Decathlon 2015 event promotion sponsor will enjoy dedicated outdoor exhibit space within the Solar Decathlon village, speaking roles at ceremonies, naming rights to a pedestrian street in the village, logos on village signage, and full-page recognition in the Solar Decathlon 2015 Visitors Guide.

Photo of a group of cheering, smiling people in front of a large sign with a wide ribbon falling away a pair of giant scissors.

Solar Decathlon sustaining sponsors receive outstanding benefits, such as playing an active role in ceremonies like this ribbon cutting, which opened Solar Decathlon 2013. (Credit: Eric Grigorian/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon)

As Solar Decathlon Director Richard King says: “The Solar Decathlon has the power to reach millions, to educate, to influence, and to lead. Sponsors provide the power to make it all possible.”

It’s your time to shine. Join the Solar Decathlon sponsor family. For more information about our sponsor program, download the Solar Decathlon 2015 sponsorship brochure and contact Richard King to discuss how your organization can contribute to Solar Decathlon 2015.

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

Balance of Power: Solar Decathlon Contest Requires Energy Efficiency and Power Production

Thursday, July 17, 2014

By Carol Laurie

Not consuming energy is better than buying or producing it—even when that energy is generated by clean, renewable solar. That’s the message the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2015 is sending to decathletes through the Energy Balance Contest, which measures the energy each team house produces and consumes over the course of the competition.

The contest is divided into two subcontests: energy production and energy consumption. To earn full points in the energy production subcontest, teams must produce at least as much energy as they consume, achieving a net electrical energy balance of at least 0 kWh. Reduced points are earned for a net electrical energy balance between -50 kWh and 0 kWh. For the energy consumption subcontest, teams must limit their electrical energy consumption to 175 kWh over the course of the contest. This consumption level is significantly less than that of a comparably sized, newly constructed, code-compliant U.S. house.

Photo of a young man wearing an oven mitt and holding a pan of food above a stove.

Michael Kinard, a member of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte Solar Decathlon 2013 team, prepares traditional southern cuisine for dinner guests from other university teams. To achieve high scores in the Solar Decathlon 2015 Energy Balance Contest, teams will have to use energy strategically when completing competition tasks such as cooking and hosting dinner parties. Credit: Eric Grigorian/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon

“Teams will have to think carefully about energy use to score well in the Energy Balance Contest,” said Joe Simon, U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon competition manager. “They will have to design houses that are extremely energy-efficient and will have to operate them intelligently.”

According to Simon, the Energy Balance Contest will require teams to complete all competition tasks—such as doing laundry, running the dishwasher, and hosting dinner parties—using approximately 60% of the energy consumed by the average house built today.

“Challenges presented by the Solar Decathlon through contests like Energy Balance require teams to establish strategic and sometimes creative strategies to win,” he said. “By encouraging innovation like this, the Solar Decathlon provides students with a unique and effective way of learning science, technology, engineering, and mathematics that prepares them for careers in clean energy.”

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

Sneak Peek: Solar Decathlon 2015 House Concepts!

Monday, June 30, 2014

By Carol Laurie

What do the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2015 teams have up their sleeves? Our new 2015 team pages will give you an idea of what’s in store. The teams have submitted their first house designs to competition organizers, and we’re giving you a glimpse of what’s planned.

Although all the projects feature solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive, they represent a variety of target markets, technological innovations, and design approaches. These include everything from urban infill housing for low-income residents and zero-net-energy housing for migrant farm workers to a modern version of the “dogtrot” house for a family of gardeners—though these plans might change substantially before construction begins at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, California, next fall.

Photo of a modern living room with a wall of windows, through which an outdoor table and wheelchair are visible.

Solar Decathlon 2013 Team Capitol D.C.’s HARVEST HOME, pictured here, is a fully accessible house designed to facilitate healing for a war veteran. Solar Decathlon 2015 teams have presented their first plans for the competition. (Credit: Jason Flakes/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon)

Stay tuned for updated team project information and designs in the months ahead. In August, we’ll share the teams’ own websites with expanded information about their plans, and next January, we’ll post computer-animated walkthroughs and renderings of the team houses.

In the meantime, see where it all begins with the Solar Decathlon 2015 initial design concepts.

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


Solar Decathlon Director Welcomes 2015 Decathletes

Monday, April 7, 2014

By Richard King

To the new teams, welcome and thank you for accepting our challenge to design and build an energy-efficient, solar-powered house to compete in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2015. And congratulations on being selected!

The Solar Decathlon is a beneficial and rewarding competition. As a solar decathlete, you help create an economy fueled by clean energy technologies that save families and businesses money and reduce U.S. reliance on foreign oil. Your participation in the Solar Decathlon also benefits your career—and I know that one of the top concerns of students like you is finding employment after graduation.

I recently read an interesting article by Steve Mesler, a U.S. gold medalist from the 2010 Winter Olympics whose team won the four-man bobsled event. He writes how, after the Olympics, he realized he had few skills applicable to the working world.

“After a decade of singularly focused training to become the best in the world at my sport, I was left with ‘now what?’ Being strong and fast and able to use perfect push technique to move an object on the ice isn’t especially useful outside the Olympics. Unless a friend’s car is stuck in the snow. It’s scary to realize that the physical skills you have so carefully crafted don’t transfer to the real world.” 

Steve had to start over to find employment and renewed interest.

Not so for solar decathletes. We help ensure your passion does not go unrewarded. You will need to work hard. Refine your skills. Complement your academic coursework. And be creative, resourceful, and determined. Then you, too, can have fame and glory in an awesome competition. The difference is that you will have employers seek you out, making employment both a goal and a reward.

Better still, you’ll feel good knowing your hard work is helping others. That’s why your dedicated involvement is so important. You are not debating how to build a better world—you are showing how to do it. You know the quickest way to a better future is to design a cleaner, more sustainable way to live and then to demonstrate it. It is this combination of creativity and public education that makes the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon so powerful.

We’ll do all we can to help you succeed, and we are going to work hard to make the Solar Decathlon 2015 competition better than ever.

May the best team win!

Richard King, creator and director of the Solar Decathlon, works in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Building Technologies Office.