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Photo of the 2005 Solar Decathlon on the National Mall looking west.

Just a few days ago the solar village was a massive construction site. Today, the village is close to completion. And by tomorrow, the construction material will be packed away and we will hold our opening ceremonies. What a marvelous job the students have done!

Photo of students watering plants on the National Mall as part of the 2005 Solar Decathlon.

Cornell University students drove through the night to deliver plants they grew in a greenhouse on campus. The plants help the solar house look as if it is a permanent installation on the Mall.

Solar Decathlon 2005

Daily Journal — October 5, 2005

The village is much more energized than usual today with the students working at a frenzied pace to prepare for the VIP tours scheduled for 5 p.m. Our solar village needs to be "camera ready" by then!

Last minute details are being attended to, such as the last coat of paint, installing sidewalks, and landscaping. Each is trying to add the finishing touch that will make their solar house a vision of beauty.

Organizers are busy too, setting up scoreboards, information kiosks, educational exhibits, street signs, and park benches. There are at least 300 of us running around taking care of our own finishing touches.

In comparison to the 2002 Solar Decathlon, many more teams this year are incorporating extensive landscaping. Teams are using plants to add beauty to the design by softening hard edges and corners. The plants also give the appearance that these solar houses have been on the site for years. Many teams are drawing on the expertise of classmates who are in the landscape architecture departments. The prime example is Cornell University from upstate New York, which has an on-campus greenhouse that the students used to germinate an entire garden. Team members drove through the night, and this morning delivered full-grown plants to the Cornell house. Now, the team's entire front and side yards have been transformed into a lush garden of vegetables and ornamentals. They even brought in sod to make a grass couch for people to sit on! As visitors tour the house and weave their way around the house, no one will believe they are standing on the National Mall in the middle of the city!

At 1 p.m., everyone gathered for the opening ceremony dress rehearsal. The opening ceremonies are schedule for 10 a.m. on Thursday Oct. 6, 2005. For so long that has been a very far off date. But, now that far off date is tomorrow. You could see the excitement rising as the students readied themselves for an eventful morning. The opening ceremony will include a color guard and the President's Marine Band to play the U.S., Spanish, and Canadian anthems. Each team will be introduced and get their picture taken with the U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman. The Secretary will then cut the ribbon about 11 a.m., and the Solar Decathlon will be officially open!

Reporting from the village,
Richard King, Department of Energy