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Solar Decathlon Blog - Teams

Below you will find Solar Decathlon news from the Teams archive, sorted by date.

Heather Greene is #SDLivingtheDream:
A Project Engineer Who is Hands-On, Too

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

A lot of hard work goes into putting up a large commercial building, as Heather Greene has learned! In this edition of #SDLivingtheDream, we hear about Heather’s path from the 2015 Solar Decathlon to a rewarding career as a project engineer.

…………………  

Name: Heather Greene

Year participated: 2015

University team: Casa Del Sol (Orange County)

Current organization/employer: Hensel Phelps

Current role: Project Engineer

(more…)

Mojave Bloom: A Therapeutic Home for Post-Traumatic Healing

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Architects are really good at a lot of things, but one quality in particular stands out to Eric Weber, an Associate Professor of Architecture at the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV). He believes that once architects understand the nature of a challenge, they excel at developing thoughtful responses to it. Maybe that is why Weber’s Design + Build students chose to create a home that supports veterans dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for their U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon® 2020 Build Challenge entry, Mojave Bloom.

Team Las Vegas includes four veterans, one service member’s spouse, and Weber himself who is a Desert Storm­ veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. Furthermore, Las Vegas is home to many former service members due to its proximity to Nellis Air Force Base and the U.S. Air Force Warfare Center. The mission of finding solutions for the challenges that returning soldiers face not only hit close to home, but really resonated with the team.

UNLV students collage

The UNLV students on Team Las Vegas developed the Mojave Bloom concept as a
sustainable salute to military veterans.

(more…)

Zach Berzolla is #SDLivingtheDream:
Using a Multidisciplinary Approach for Effective Building Design

Monday, December 14, 2020

For this edition of #SDLivingtheDream we learn about Zach Berzolla, a 2018 Middlebury College team alumnus. He shares with us the work he is doing at MIT, along with key concepts that he has learned for successful building design, from Solar Decathlon. How about that for a doer designer!

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Name: Zach Berzolla

Year participated in Solar Decathlon: 2018 Design Challenge

University team: Middlebury College

 Current organization / employer: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sustainable Design Lab

Current role: Research Assistant/ SMBT Student

How did participation in the Solar Decathlon affect the trajectory of your career?

I knew I was interested in zero energy buildings, but the Solar Decathlon cemented for me that I wanted to make this field my career. Furthermore,  as I started working with the multidisciplinary team I assembled for the Race to Zero, I realized the importance of an integrated design process. This was one of the reasons I ended up at the MIT Sustainable Design Lab for my master’s; the lab is multi-disciplinary and focused on tools and analyses that architects, engineers, and policy-makers can all understand.

 Describe a work outcome, building project or other achievement you are most proud of and how (if) it relates to your experience with Solar Decathlon.

At MIT, I have been working with other members of my lab to make urban building energy modeling tools accessible to every city so that they can make physics-backed decisions on how to meet their emissions reduction goals. Through Solar Decathlon trainings and collaborations, I learned the applied building physics that underlie every building upgrade strategy we propose to meet these emissions reduction goals.

Zach at VERMOD Homes, a project that he sought out, which was inspired by his Solar Decathlon work. He documented improvements to the factory process for their zero-energy manufactured homes.

Brett Horin is #SDLivingtheDream:
Seeing the Impacts in the Real World

Monday, November 16, 2020

This month in our #SDLivingtheDream series, you’ll meet Brett Horin, who competed with Illinois Tech in the 2018 Design Challenge and who has gone on to work in energy modeling in the architecture industry, fueled by his experience in the Solar Decathlon.

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Name: Brett Horin

Year participated in Solar Decathlon: 2018

University team: Illinois Institute of Technology

Current organization / employer: Lamar Johnson Collaborative/Clayco

Current role: Energy Modeler

(more…)

David Gavin is #SDLivingtheDream:
Designing for a Cause!

Monday, October 19, 2020

In this edition of our #SDLivingtheDream series, we introduce you to David Gavin, a Team UMD Solar Decathlon alumnus who focuses on sustainable design in his everyday work. Read on to find out how David is using his building-design skills to help domestic violence victims.

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Name: David Gavin

Year participated in Solar Decathlon:  2011

University team: University of Maryland

Current organization/employer: Quinn Evans Architects

Current role: Architect / Associate / Sustainability Leadership Team

(more…)

Mentoring 101: How to Teach College Students What Textbooks Can’t

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Most colleges don’t offer a course that can teach you how to navigate the real world. Sure, classroom learning provides students with a solid technical foundation in their chosen areas of study, but essential professional skills like negotiation, compromise, and flexibility aren’t covered in most textbooks. For the answers to life’s most challenging questions, you need a mentor.

If there were degrees in Real Life Experience, a group of more than 30 students from Weber State University would earn top honors. These students managed to design and build a six-bedroom, 2,450 square foot home that is powered entirely by the sun and can go off grid for three days—or longer—as part of their Solar Decathlon 2020 senior project.

Jeremy Farner, an associate professor of building design and construction at Weber State University, served as the team’s faculty advisor on the project. Now that he has successfully advised two Solar Decathlon Design Challenge competitions and Weber State’s most recent Build Challenge, there is no doubt he has what it takes to mentor the next generation of green building professionals.

Several students from the WSU build team

Jeremy Farner, fourth from right, stands with students on the Solar Decathlon 2020 Build project team representing the Building Design & Construction, Interior Design, and Construction Management programs in February 2020. Photo by Weber State University

(more…)

Sean Copeland is #SDLivingtheDream:
Revolutionizing Energy-Efficient Commercial Building Through Design!

Monday, August 17, 2020

Meet 2017-2018 Design Challenge alumnus Sean Copeland. From Penn State to Solar Decathlon, this two-time SD veteran has always worked with a passion for building design and environmental preservation. With his current position at Arup, he is able to intersect the two through working on carbon-free building construction in Massachusetts. Learn more about how Sean puts his skills to the test toward the green-building industry.

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Name: Sean Copeland

Year participated in Solar Decathlon: 2017 and 2018

University team: Penn State University (2017 — Full Circle, 2018 — Ripple)

Current organization / employer: Arup

Current role: Graduate Sustainability Consultant

(more…)

Farah Naz Ahmad is #SDLivingTheDream:
Building Science Skills — and Communications, too!

Monday, July 13, 2020

For the latest in our #SDLivingTheDream series, you’ll meet a 2011 Build Challenge team member whose career has explored several angles of energy-efficient building: lighting retrofits, energy codes, and technical building standards for city government. And if you’ve ever done a search for Solar Decathlon content on social media, you’ve probably seen Farah’s posts — she is one of our biggest cheerleaders!

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Name:  Farah Naz Ahmad

Year participated in Solar Decathlon:  2011

University team: The City College of New York (Team New York)

Current organization / employer:  New York City School Construction Authority

Current role:  Architect, Sustainable Design

(more…)

Kyle Macht is #SDLivingTheDream:
Learning Evolves to Leadership

Monday, June 15, 2020

In this installment of our special series, #SDLivingTheDream, we hear from a self-described jack of all trades who evolved into a true leader with the help of experiences in the Solar Decathlon.

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Name:  Kyle Macht

Years participated in Solar Decathlon:

2007: core team member

2009: team leader

2011: rules inspector

University team:  Penn State

Current organization / employer:   Macht Architecture

Current role:  Principal

(more…)

Amanda Kirkeby is #SDLivingTheDream:
From Solar Decathlon student team to event organizing team

Monday, May 18, 2020

Our #SDLivingTheDream series continues with a recent alum from the Design Challenge who actually went on to work behind the scenes with the event’s staff, including posting to our social media channels for last month’s completely virtual event.

Amanda Kirkeby working in the lab at NREL on Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) research, an alternative method of power distribution in buildings.

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Name: Amanda Kirkeby

Year participated in Solar Decathlon: 2018 Design Challenge

University team: Middlebury Zero Energy School Team (Middlebury College)

Current organization / employer: National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

Current role: Post-graduate intern with the Applied Engineering group (more…)

#SDLivingTheDream,
Rodrigo Castro:
The Use of Energy Performance as a Design Input

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

A headshot of Rodrigo Castro

We’re continuing our special series to highlight alumni of both the Build Challenge and the Design Challenge of Solar Decathlon, and how their experiences with the event have shaped their careers and lives. This time on #SDLivingTheDream, it’s Rodrigo Castro.

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Name: Rodrigo Castro, PhD

Year participated in Solar Decathlon: 2011

University team: Team Florida (University of Florida)

Current organization / employer: Bionova Ltd.

Current role: Senior LCA Expert

 

(more…)

#SDLivingTheDream,
Teresa Hamm Modley:
Designing, Building and Beyond

Monday, March 9, 2020

We’re continuing our series, #SDLivingTheDream, highlighting alumni of both the Build Challenge and Design Challenge and how their time in the competition 

has shaped their careers and their lives. This month, it’s an alum of *both* Challenges.

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Name: Teresa Hamm Modley

Year participated in Solar Decathlon:

  1. 2011 Solar Decathlon (as a team partner for the Empowerhouse, I worked for Habitat for Humanity of DC)
  2. 2017-2018 Race to Zero, Elementary School Division (more…)

#SDLivingTheDream,
Bennett Doherty:
Solar Decathlon Introduced Me to This Field

Monday, February 10, 2020

We’re continuing our series, #SDLivingTheDream, highlighting alumni of both the Build Challenge and Design Challenge and how their time in the competition has shaped their careers and their lives.

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Name: Bennett Doherty

Year participated in Solar Decathlon: 2018 Design Challenge

University team: Middlebury College

Current organization / employer: National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

Current role: Research Engineer in the Commercial Buildings Group

(more…)

#SDLivingTheDream,
Dylan Weber Callahan:
Learning the Importance of Collaboration

Tuesday, January 14, 2020


Today we begin a new series on the Solar Decathlon blog, #SDLivingTheDream, highlighting alumni of both the Build Challenge and Design Challenge and how their time in the competition has shaped their careers and their lives. First up, we talk to Dylan Weber Callahan, who competed in the most recent Build Challenge and has already parlayed that experience into a great design job with HOK.

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Name: Dylan Weber Callahan

Year participated in Solar Decathlon: Solar Decathlon 2017 in Denver, CO

University team: Washington University in St. Louis

Current organization / employer: HOK (New York office)

Current role: Design Professional

(more…)

First-Ever Solar Decathlon Africa Shines With Passion and Progress

Friday, November 15, 2019

By Stacy Hunt

In late September, I found myself in a futuristic eco-village outside of Ben Guerir, Morocco, six time zones away from home. As a juror for the Communications and Social Awareness Contest in the first-ever Solar Decathlon Africa, I had some tough decisions ahead of me.

This wasn’t my first rodeo. I was a juror for Solar Decathlon Europe in Szentendre, Hungary; I’ve attended several U.S. competitions, and I have worked with the U.S. organizing team since 2013.

But as soon as I stepped onto the site, Solar Decathlon Africa felt different. The energy of the students, and their region-, craft-, and culture-specific solutions were somehow more robust than what I’ve seen on the whole in other Solar Decathlons.

(more…)

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