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Photo of two students looking at a lightbulb.

Students examine a compact fluorescent light bulb at the University of Texas at Austin "SNAP" house entry. The Solar Decathlon's School Day brought about 450 students, ranging from third graders to high school students, to see the Decathlon houses and exhibits.
(Credit: Stefano Paltera, Solar Decathlon)

Solar Decathlon 2005

Community Support Reflective of Widespread Solar Interest

Across the board, the 2005 Solar Decathlon has generated widespread individual, community, corporate, and nonprofit interest and support ranging from in-kind materials and services donations to advice and assistance from local experts on all aspects of home building. Teams also received small financial contributions from individuals all the way up to large amounts from foundations and corporations. Other teams collaborated with government agencies and nonprofit organizations.

Building on the enthusiasm of the students themselves, this unprecedented level of attention and awareness helps to meet a primary goal of this solar competition—demonstrating that these technologies work. Today. In the real world.

Donations, Collaborations, Consultations

All the Solar Decathlon students speak appreciatively of the support they received. For example, Cornell University reports that General Electric donated all the PV panels and most of the Energy Star appliances used in its house. The University of Michigan received in-kind or monetary contributions from 3M, Sanyo, Fisher Paykel, Sterling, and Dexter Axle, along with the Kresge and Binda foundations. Many other manufacturers also donated materials or services; in fact, all the teams received in-kind donations of varying types and degrees.

And by collaborating with a federal government agency—the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Products Laboratory in Wisconsin—the University of Colorado team developed innovative, biobased structural insulated panels for use in its house. The Florida International University team successfully forged relationships with local government, even receiving a cash contribution from Miami Dade County. And Washington State University (WSU) was inspired by the state legislature's passage of two bills that are considered among the most progressive and aggressive solar legislation enacted in this country.

Drawing on local expertise, the New York Institute of Technology team consulted with a number of organizations and individuals, from utility companies to electrolyzer manufacturers to the local fire marshal. Rhode Island School of Design Faculty Advisor Jonathan Knowles notes, "The community really came through for us, with an engineering firm helping with heating and cooling, and students at nearby Brown University designing a system that uses most water in the house twice."

Competition Sponsored by "Heavy Hitters"

And of course, the competition sponsors themselves bring excitement and credibility to the table. The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy is the primary sponsor, and DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory is both sponsoring and organizing the event. The American Institute of Architects, the National Association of Homebuilders, BP, the DIY Network, and Sprint are private-sector sponsors.