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Rain Falls While Construction Progresses in the Villa Solar

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Imagine having to work all day and night outside in cold rain. The Solar Decathlon Europe 2010 competitors are working in these conditions on the third day of assembly. With rain forecast through Sunday, the teams will have to get used to constructing their houses in the rain. But most would prefer the rain now than during the competition, when they’ll need sunshine to power their houses.

Tongji University, which is competing in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011 as Team China, is constructing a very interesting house with structural support of bamboo poles.

Virginia Tech is proceeding rapidly through assembly of its Lumenhaus. Madrid is the fourth installation of this house, which competed in Solar Decathlon 2009 and was exhibited at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., and in New York City’s Times Square.

One University of Florida house module has arrived in Madrid and is sitting on a truck near the construction site. It will be delivered this afternoon and followed by the second module tonight. Having passed the inspection of its foundation this morning, the team is ready to begin.

This European event has been interesting to witness. The similarities with the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon are in the process itself, with teams constructing houses and organizers conducting meetings and inspections. The big difference is that, here, six languages are spoken by the teams, and the organizers’ primary language is Spanish. The most common language is English, so it is spoken during meetings. But it can be challenging for everyone to understand one another—especially for the team from Finland and the two teams from China.

I have every confidence that this event will be fantastic. The setting is lovely, the city is beautiful, the teams and organizers are competent and committed, and the houses are going to be diverse and magnificent. No doubt when the Madrid sun shines on the Villa Solar on June 17 for the opening ceremony, everyone will be very proud. I only wish I could be here to witness it.

Carol Anna is the communications manager of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon. Throughout the Solar Decathlon Europe competition, U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon organizers are reporting from Madrid.

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