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Photo of approximately 25 members of Germany standing and chatting in a grassy area on the National Mall.

Team Germany scouts out its home away from home before the all-team kickoff meeting.

Photo of a group of five men wearing construction gear. They are posing next to solar electric panels on their assigned lot for the Solar Decathlon.

Minnesota decathletes pause during solar panel installation. A construction detour has delayed the arrival of their house.

Photo of a woman clapping while a crane lifts part of a house in the air. The module hovers over the main part of the house. Small groups of people look on.

Puerto Rico's Sonia Miranda-Palacios claps as a crane hoists a portion of her team's house onto its foundation.

Solar Decathlon 2009

Daily Journal - October 1, 2009

Solar Decathlon 2009 Day One

As of late this afternoon, all the team houses had arrived—except for one. Road construction forced Minnesota's house to detour from Virginia into Pennsylvania and down into Washington. If all goes well, Icon House should arrive around 10 p.m. The team is taking it all in stride and staying busy by securing the foundation among other things.

Minnesota was not the only house to encounter some drama during transit. After 300 miles and 33 popped tires, Penn State's Natural Fusion finally arrived eight hours late. While they waited for their house, the students caught a few hours of much-needed sleep.

Another late arrival was Puerto Rico. A traffic accident caused its house to be rerouted on its way to D.C. Along the alternate route, the truck was delayed yet again because it didn't fit across a bridge. But CASH House is here safely now. Coincidently, Puerto Rico is located across from Minnesota. Puerto Rico team members say they're planning to cheer on their neighbors when Icon House arrives a little later tonight. It's always nice to see the camaraderie that develops among the teams.

Last night, the teams gathered for a kickoff dinner that provided them an opportunity to meet fellow decathletes and size up the competition. Before the meeting, an enthusiastic Team Germany made a quick stop at the National Mall. We watched as they beelined to their assigned lot and chatted excitedly while they stood in the middle. Like the 19 other teams, this will be their home away from home for the next few weeks.

Here's a snapshot of the teams' activities between now and the start of the competition: The teams will be in 24-hour assembly mode for the next several days as they race to install their houses; set up the living spaces; prepare their landscaping; test and retest all of the solar, mechanical, electrical, and water systems; connect to the power grid; and ready the houses for inspection and the Opening Ceremony on Oct. 8.

Be sure to check back daily for updates to see how the houses are coming along. Best of luck to all the teams!