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Photo of a group of 16 students sitting in a circle on the floor in the corner of a large white tent, eating food off of paper plates and drinking out of foam cups. Aerial photo of the National Mall features a square metal entrance gate with a banner that says Solar Decathlon, with a walkway extending into the distance to a large tent. On both sides of the walkway are solar houses that appear nearly complete.

A bird's-eye view of the Solar Decathlon demonstrates that the exteriors of most houses are nearly complete.

Aerial photo of a house that is nearly fully assembled. Three student are installing solar panels on the roof while two install railings on the deck.

The University of Missouri-Rolla team worked on installing solar panels and building the deck this morning.

Photo of a house with a wooden exterior, wooden railings, and three large banks of solar panels on its roof.

The house for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign team now sports solar panels and deck railings.

Solar Decathlon 2007

Daily Journal - October 7, 2007

Day Five: A Day for Rest and Barbeque

Sunday is a day of rest here at the solar village. There was another event sharing the Mall next to us called "Kicking for Kids Who Can't," which was raising funds for children who are born without limbs. This family-oriented event featured activities that included playing games, such as soccer and kickball, on the fields next to our houses. Out of respect for their event, we stopped using heavy machinery and power tools to reduce the noise and distractions. Instead, from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m., we had a barbeque sponsored by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). The decathletes sat under the big tent and ate ribs and chicken while getting to know each other a little bit better. We all had a nice afternoon. Thank you, NAHB!

There were many, many visitors to the Mall yesterday and today, and we aren't even open yet! We do have our main street, called "Decathlete Way," fenced off so people can stroll down and watch the students work on their houses. This is actually one of my favorite times during the whole 21-day event. You can see how the houses are assembled from the ground up, providing literally an inside view of all the materials and equipment. Not that a tour through the finished house isn't great, but if you are a technology nerd, seeing the assembly process is awesome. Evidently a lot of Washingtonians know this and came out to see the students at work on a beautiful Sunday afternoon.

Teams take two approaches to their arrival on the National Mall: some focus on pre-assembly at their campus building site, making it easy to power up systems once they arrive, while others count on the assembly phase for putting their components together. This year, three teams—the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of Maryland, and the University of Texas at Austin—all had the luxury of air conditioned houses this weekend, while other teams sweated over their wiring and air-conditioning hoses.

All three teams had already installed their mounting racks, partially installed their air conditioning systems, and employed modular solar panels with quick and simple electrical connections. There's no telling if this approach provides any benefits during the competition, but it certainly made these teams the envy of their neighbors during this hot and steamy weekend!