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Photo of a man wearing a hard hat and wiping off a sign attached to a wooden retaining wall. The Washington Monument is in the background.

With the Washington Monument in the background, Team Ontario/BC decathlete Dan Malka polishes a North House sign as part of final preparations.
(Credit: Heidi Rex/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon)

Photo of a man wearing a hard hat and filing a metal railing. He is standing on a deck.

Adam Strauss from The University of Arizona attends to last-minute details on the porch of SEED [pod] house.
(Credit: Annie Coghill/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon)

Photo of a man wearing a hard hat and safety vest observing electrical equipment. Another man stands on the porch above and looks on.

Senior Engineer Michael Coddington takes a voltage reading as Penn State decathlete Jeff Rayl observes. Penn State is one of the last teams to be connected with the microgrid.
(Credit: Annie Coghill/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon)

Solar Decathlon 2009

Daily Journal - October 7, 2009

Competition Readiness—Countdown Is On!

Today is the last day of assembly. Tomorrow, the competition begins! The teams have been working around the clock to build their solar houses on the National Mall. Now, in just seven days, we have an entire village—a Herculean effort. We are proud of and impressed with this year's class of decathletes.

As the decathletes prepare for the official start of the competition, I wish them good luck. No matter the outcome, I hope each understands the significance of the collective accomplishment here. Certainly, they're aware of the effort that went into the design and build of their own house during the past two years, but just watch what happens when they get together with the other 19 teams to interact, compete, and learn from one another.

Start by putting them on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., the leadership capital of the world, where men and women of influence ponder what is right for the country. On top of that, open the event to people the world over, through every form of communication possible, to watch, be entertained, and learn from them. Now, that is something of significance. No matter how they score in the competition, all are winners.

The excitement is really building—along with windy conditions, which are creating some challenges as teams struggle to secure homes and clear lots. Looming deadlines have team members racing to pass inspections so they can compete tomorrow. As of this afternoon, four teams stand ready: Cornell, Team California, Rice, and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. The rest of the teams must adhere to deadlines staggered throughout the day with the ultimate deadline of 10 p.m. for passing final inspection. Teams that are not ready at that time will have to wait 24 hours for the next opportunity to pass inspection, thus missing the first day of the competition. We are hopeful that all teams will be ready!

The University of Arizona's Adam Strauss says his team is on track to be competition-ready tonight. Two days ago, he worried they wouldn't finish in time. Seeing all the components assembled into one house has been a very rewarding experience for the team members. They look forward to showcasing their state-of-the-art kitchen in the upcoming Home Entertainment contest.

We've completed the infrastructure, including educational exhibits and event signage that connects the neighborhoods, making the solar village feel like a real community. And a steady parade of media and VIPs has come to the village for a sneak preview today in advance of the Opening Ceremony tomorrow, Oct. 8, at 1pm. Tonight, the teams celebrate the beginning of the competition with pizza, a special party, and live music.

On tap for tomorrow: Data collection begins on the objective contests, including indoor temperature and humidity measurements, hot water draws, and refrigerator and freezer temperature measurements. Teams will have to complete several tasks, including dishwashing and clothes washing and drying. Real-time scoring will be live tomorrow with updates occurring every 15 minutes or so. Follow along at home and see how the teams are doing!