As the word “Go!” boomed through the bullhorn, several hundred decathletes broke through a ribbon of construction tape and onto the site where assembly of their U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2015 houses was about to begin.
Trucks began to roll in carrying sections of houses and equipment, and students rushed to their lots to begin the process of reassembling their houses.
The race is on. After two years of hard work designing, fundraising, and finally transporting their projects to the Solar Decathlon competition, these decathletes now have nine days to assemble their houses.
Decathletes rush onto the competition site at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, California, to begin assembly of their Solar Decathlon 2015 houses. (Credit: Thomas Kelsey/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon)
Within the first hour, a village had begun to grow.
“This is so, so awesome. It’s the first day of assembly and everyone is excited to be finally here after preparing for two years,” says Solar Decathlon Director Richard King. “And what a difference an hour makes! It’s truly amazing. I’m standing in the middle of the construction site and everywhere I look, there’s something going on. Trucks, cranes, people moving. These teams are really going at it. They’re super organized—some are really far along already.”
King explains that assembly is crucial to a team’s success in the competition.
“They can’t begin the competition or host public visitors until their assembly is completed and inspections are signed off,” he says. “Teams that start racking up points from the very beginning are more likely to win. So the sooner they can complete assembly the better off they will be. The goal is to be ready when the competition starts on October 8.”
As each house nears completion, the teams are required to pass a variety of inspections—including building, electrical, plumbing, mechanical, and final safety inspections—to ensure compliance with the Solar Decathlon Building Code. Teams start earning points when the competition formally begins on Thursday, Oct. 8, at 11 a.m.
On the first day of assembly at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, California, Solar Decathlon Director Richard King captures the view from his favorite perch on the scissors lift. The house in the foreground is Reflect Home from California State University, Sacramento. (Credit: Richard King/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon)
The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon takes place Oct. 8–18, 2015, at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, California. The Solar Decathlon competition houses will be open to visitors from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily on eight days over two weekends:
- Thursday, Oct. 8–Sunday, Oct. 11, 2015
- Thursday, Oct. 15–Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015.
Visit the Solar Decathlon website for more information.
Carol Laurie is the communications manager of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon.