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Is That the Sun I See!?! Yes!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

By Ruby Nahan

One week from today, the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2017 officially opens to the public and the teams start earning points! In addition to forecasted sunnier weather, we’re looking forward to seeing all the smiling sunny faces of the people who come to our Opening Ceremony next Thursday, October 5, starting at 9:30 a.m. Be sure to check out our Visit information so you can join us at the 61st and Peña Station on the University of Colorado A line commuter rail, just one stop from Denver International Airport.

Here, the teams are working hard to assemble and finish their houses in time for the competition. There are still some clouds in the sky, but no rain today, so at least the weather’s starting to give them some love. Now, if we could only do something about that mud …

Las Vegas is in the house! Or, should I say, the Sinatra Living house from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas team is on site! The team’s mechanical pod had arrived, along with a lot of decking material, and students were busy prepping the team’s “lot” in anticipation of their house arriving. Around 1:30 p.m. the semi-truck hauled in the house on its integrated trailer to much cheer. Then it began to contend with the mud. I lost track of all the bales of straw a team member threw into place to give traction to the truck’s tires as it worked to put the house into place. Despite the late arrival of the house, student Team Leader Nasko Balaktchiev, is feeling positive about the team’s chances of finishing on time, because much of the house’s interior is already finished.

  This afternoon, @unlvsd17 posted, “Team Las Vegas has officially arrived in Denver!” on Twitter. (Credit: Team Las Vegas)

Wet weather is no stranger to Team Daytona Beach. This is the team that had to sit out construction for several days when their schools shut down because of Hurricane Irma. That meant they arrived at the competition site without having completed construction of BEACH House. During transit, the tarps ripped, causing the house’s subfloor and some drywall to sustain water damage. Student Team Leader Jenna Beckwith says the team is working to get things dried out and will keep plugging away. They’ve had some volunteer help from area professional associations, and, best of all, another team! The team from Missouri University of Science and Technology is actually ahead of schedule, so rather than take a break, they kept their hard hats, work boots, and other safety gear on and walked “down the street” to help their neighbors at the opposite end of the village. Now, that’s the true spirit of Solar Decathlon!

Members of Missouri S&T support Team Daytona Beach with water remediation in the run-up to the 2017 competition. (Credit: Joe Simon / U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon)

A stroll through the rest of the Solar Decathlon village offers some additional updates.

Crete House, from Washington University – St. Louis, has come a long way since Monday, when they were craning walls into place. Today they have walls and a roof, and they’re working hard on decking, access ramps, and the interior. Team Alabama’s surviv(al) house, which saw delays in transit, is weathered in and their solar panels are up! They’re also hard at work on decking and the interior. Enable by Northwestern is coming along. Today they are working on roofing, siding, weather sealing (the irony!), and, making a rare appearance at Solar Decathlon, a garage! RISE by the University of California, Berkeley and University of Denver team is indeed rising! There are stairs up to the rooftop deck, where full railing is also being installed. They’re also painting on both the interior and exterior.

Students from the UCB/DU team work on the exterior staircase that allows their house to work as a stackable unit. (Credit: Denver International Airport / U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon)

The University of Maryland team has grown in size. The team is working in two shifts of about eight students each. They are working on the interior of their house, called reACT, as well as weather sealing windows and, very exciting, putting in their greenhouse. UC Davis’ OURH2Ouse is fully set and leveled. Today they’re working on windows, siding, and decking as well as some intriguing exterior finishes, including a deck roof trellis made of bicycle wheels—a fitting touch for the school from Davis, California, a famously bicycle-friendly city.  The team from The Netherlands is working on the noble-wood siding for their house, Selficient, and integrating their mechanical core. The Swiss Team has come a long way since Monday. Today they’re working on their rooftop green space and their solar energy systems. They’ve added a lot of the translucent siding, which appears to be unique to the NeighborHub.

Solar and homemade solar thermal panels are integrated on the east, south, and west façades of the Swiss Team’s NeighborHub house. (Credit: Denver International Airport / U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon)

When I visited Missouri S&T’s SILO house today, their kitchen looked so finished, I asked if they could cook me some lunch. Not quite! (But they did offer me some snacks.) Last night when we had photographers on site to add photos to our Event Photo library, they noted Missouri S&T was dark. That’s because the team’s ahead of schedule and leaves the site to go back to their hotel early. Or, as mentioned earlier, they walk on down the street and lend a helping hand to their neighbor in true Solar Decathlon style.

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