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It’s All About Execution Now

Sunday, September 25, 2011

We are four days into the competition, and the standings are extremely close. Normally, we would begin to see some separation, but the first- and second-place teams are just a point apart, and the total separation from top to bottom is only 20 points out of 1000. If this was a horse race, we’d need a speed camera to tell who is in the lead!

If you witnessed how prepared the teams were and watched them as they built their houses in record time, it would make sense. The teams worked hard, planned for every contingency (including the rain), and are running through the contest requirements with precision. They know it is all about execution now.

The judging for the five juried contests has been completed, and those scores are sealed under lock and key until they are revealed later in the week. The teams can do nothing more to enhance the outcome of the 500 points awarded for the Architecture, Market Viability, Engineering, Communications, and Affordability contests. Their fate is sealed.

Still up for grabs are the 500 points awarded for performance: Comfort Zone (heating, cooling, and humidity), Hot Water, Appliances, Home Entertainment, and Energy Balance. Six student decathletes are required to perform all the normal daily activities an average family would do, such as cook meals, wash clothes, heat and cool the house, watch television, use the computer, and take hot showers. (Don’t worry, parents. These are simulated showers.)

The competition rules place demanding requirements on the teams and their houses. The objective is to determine which house (1) is the most efficient at collecting and converting sunlight into usable energy and (2) uses that energy most efficiently to provide all the modern conveniences expected for a family of six.

Winning those points takes execution. Be sure to watch the action all week!

Richard King is director of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon.

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