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Solar Decathlon Europe Teams Race to Finish Assembly

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The final stretch. Today is the last day for assembly at Solar Decathlon Europe. All houses must be completed, inspected, and connected to the power grid by this evening, or they cannot score points on the first day of competition. Some teams, such as Virginia Tech and Stuttgart University of Applied Sciences, are finished, but others, including the the University of Florida and the Instituto de Arquitectura Avanzada de Cataluña, still have a lot of work to do. I had dinner with a couple of the Florida team members last night, and they were upbeat about their prospects. As soon as Florida finishes its decking—hopefully today—it will be ready.

Teams have to be ready because the opening ceremony is tomorrow, June 17, at 11 a.m. The minister of housing, Beatriz Corredor, will open the first Solar Decathlon Europe and then tour some of the houses, so everyone needs to be “show ready.”

The opening ceremony should be spectacular. We had a dress rehearsal this afternoon, and all the teams are excited. The plan is to individually introduce all the teams and then get them up on stage for a big group photograph.

The stage is being constructed on the Puente del Rey bridge, which crosses the Manzanares River. The stage has been placed strategically so the audience can see the opening activities onstage and all the houses along the north bank of the river.

The opening ceremony will include a short film, “From Washington to Madrid,” and speeches by three students who represent the three continents—Europe, Asia, and North America—from which the teams originate. Kathryn Watson, a journalism student from the University of Florida, will represent the United States.

Everyone is working hard to make tomorrow’s opening ceremony a successful and memorable event. I am so proud of all the students, faculty, and organizers. There are no less than 600 people from around the world working together to make this one small village come alive.

Until tomorrow, wish us all good luck!

Richard King is the director 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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