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Home Entertainment Contest Rewards the Hosts with the Most

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Alexis Powers

It may seem like all work all the time for the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon’s student decathletes, but one contest brings teams together to earn points while relaxing and interacting with one another.

The Home Entertainment Contest includes the following five subcontests:

  • Lighting
  • Cooking
  • Home Electronics
  • Dinner Party
  • Movie Night.

The first three are task-based subcontests that require the teams to keep interior and exterior lights on at night, perform four cooking tasks during contest week, and operate a TV and computer during specified hours. The last two are juried subcontests, but they are not like other juried contests in the competition. In these cases, the teams’ neighbors become jurors.

During the Solar Decathlon, teams host two dinner parties for up to eight guests in their houses. Six of these guests are members of neighboring teams. The visiting team members score the host team on the quality of the meal, ambiance, and overall experience.

Photo of a woman cooking at a counter. In the background, a man sleeps on a couch.

Middlebury College student Melissa Segil prepares a dish for a competition dinner party while teammate Erik Fendik, background, catches up on some sleep. (Credit: Stefano Paltera/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon)

On Monday night, the decathletes shared regionally inspired meals, conversation, and compliments with one another. The final dinner party will take place tonight.

“We’ve been doing practice dinners for team bonding since last fall,” says Melissa Segil, team manager for Middlebury College. “It was so fun to use the kitchen, which is one of our favorite parts of the house.”

Last night, the teams also invited their neighbors over for movie night. Many teams have elaborate, yet highly energy-efficient, home entertainment systems for this contest. The visiting teams evaluated the quality and design of the home theater system, ambiance, and overall experience in their fellow competitors’ houses.

To get a taste of the Home Entertainment Contest at home, try making some of the team recipes, which are available on our team pages.

Alexis Powers is a member of the Solar Decathlon communications team.

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