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Photo of the Solar Decathlon village at night, with houses lining a walkway on both sides and the U.S. Capitol Building glowing in the background. Photo of a blond-haired woman sitting at a table that holds a large pile of folded towels. Two young men and one young woman are also visible in the photo.

Cecile Warner, project manager of the Solar Decathlon, takes a moment to distribute towels to the decathletes as part of the laundry activity of Appliances contest, which got under way today. The teams earn points for washing and drying 12 full-size bath towels.

Photo of a 2-year-girl reaching out to touch a solar panel that is displayed on a section of a ground-based roof with shingles.

The daughter of a Solar Decathlon official, 2-year-old Freya, is quite at home around a PV panel. She also attended the 2005 Decathlon, and who knows—might she be a Solar Decathlete circa 2025?

Solar Decathlon 2007

Daily Journal - October 16, 2007

Maryland Wins Communications

This morning's big announcement was the Communications contest results, and the team from the University of Maryland brought home the win. Santa Clara University finished second and Penn State took the third spot.

Communications are important to get the incredible story of the teams out to the public. Web sites were judged, as well as the tours and messaging the teams give to the thousands of people coming into their houses during the Solar Decathlon.

Here are the results announced this morning.

University of Maryland: 1st place - 98.20 (out of 100 possible points)
Santa Clara University: 2nd place - 92.45
Penn State: 3rd place - 90.40

Communications Jurors Jaime Van Mourik, with GreenSpace, and Scott Shepherd, with D&R International, presented the awards. The third juror, Alan Wickstrom, with, was unable to attend the presentation, but sent his best regards to the winners. Van Mourik praised the teams for bringing an abundance of enthusiasm and energy to the competition. "You are making an impact on every person who walks through your home. You are making an amazing difference and leaving a legacy," she said.

Some comments from the jury follow:

Maryland—The LEAF House team successfully carries its theme of a leaf as nature's most efficient organism throughout its excellent Web site and well-planned and executed tour. The design of the tour's flow and providing the exact level and amount of information for the audience is very well thought out. The design and architecture of the Web site is very clean and easy to navigate with just the perfect amount of information offered in a concise and elegant manner.

Santa Clara—The goal to build a sustainable solar house that is functional, elegant, and innovative is seen throughout the Web site. Their friendly, enthusiastic tour, which was very much "on target" for the general public audiences, was informative and entertaining. The Web site features a very informative narrative for every piece of the house, from systems to materials, and the tour provides excellent signage and solid explanations of the house's features.

Penn State—This team's thoughtful planning and knowledge of their house and its technologies was obvious in the fine tour as well as on the nicely designed Web site. The tour and the Web site reflect the team's belief in taking on opportunities and clearly highlight their accomplishments in building their MorningStar home.

As proof that the Maryland team deserved the award, they wasted no time communicating about it. Within minutes of the announcement, the team had the news live on Maryland's Web site.

Sam McGlone, who leads Maryland's communications team, was ecstatic about the victory. He said communications was part of the overall team activity from the beginning. He was particularly proud of the short videos on the Web site, which allow the team members to speak for themselves.

To all the teams, but particularly to those who are currently low in the standings, I encourage you to take heart. There are many more contests left and many more ways to earn points. As we've seen in the past, the standings change rapidly from day to day.