Skip navigation to main content. U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon | Powered by the Sun

Click photo to view high-resolution image.

Photo of a young woman standing next to a sign in front of a house. There is a long ramp to the house behind her.

Grace Kessler, a University of Kentucky decathlete, is all smiles as the solar village opens and the competition finally begins.
(Credit: Annie Coghill/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon)

Photo of a man wearing a beaded chestnut necklace and standing in front of a house.

A lot of ingenuity, creativity, and some old-fashioned buckeye luck gave The Ohio State University team the edge it needed to start the competition on schedule.
(Credit: Annie Coghill/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon)

Photo of a group of people dressed in matching T-shirts. Richard King stands in the middle.

Surrounded by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee team, Richard King prepares for the official ribbon cutting ceremony of Solar Decathlon 2009.
(Credit: Robin Ashmore/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon)

Solar Decathlon 2009

Daily Journal - October 8, 2009

Let the Games Begin!

Opening day has arrived, and an astonishing amount of work has been accomplished on the National Mall since last night. A true transformation of the grounds took place, with lots going from construction zones to pristine, welcoming, landscaped houses. Thanks to the massive push last night, nine teams—the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Team Ontario/BC, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Team Germany, Cornell University, Rice University, Team California, The Ohio State University, and the University of Minnesota—stood eligible to compete this morning. Several more teams—Virginia Tech, the University of Kentucky, The University of Arizona, Team Missouri, and Team Alberta—met a noon deadline for final inspection and are now officially competing and accumulating points.

I'm happy to report that the University of Minnesota team, whose house was the last to arrive on the National Mall after dealing with transportation issues en route, was among the first to pass all inspections and be declared competition-ready. It just goes to show the spirit and spunk found in our amazing decathletes!

With blue skies and seasonal temperatures in the low 70s, we had a picture-perfect day for the Opening Ceremony. A true celebration for all teams, the ceremony marked the start of Solar Decathlon 2009 with the proper pomp and circumstance. All 20 teams attended, sporting team uniforms, high spirits, and school flags. The distinguished Dr. Steven Chu, United States Secretary of Energy, delivered the keynote address and participated in a ceremonial ribbon-cutting to open the solar village.

Underscoring the importance of the technologies and innovations on display here, today's guests included several members of Congress and other government officials. Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, Congressman Robert Latta of Ohio, Congressman Bart Gordon of Tennessee (who also serves as the Chairman of the House Committee on Science and Technology), Congressman Russ Carnahan of Missouri, and many others representing organizations such as Fannie Mae and the National Association of Counties toured Solar Decathlon houses.

Objective contests kicked off the competition today. Comfort Zone, Appliances, and Home Entertainment contest tasks and measurements were in play. Student teams earned points for washing and drying a load of towels, maintaining temperatures in their refrigerators and freezers, running dishwashers, and performing workstation lighting tests.

Teams not yet competing are feeling the pressure because they know every minute counts. They are not only unable to participate in specific tasks, but because the objective contests are cumulative over the course of the competition, they are also missing an opportunity to earn points for things such as indoor temperature and humidity measurements.

Decathletes are off to the races! At this early stage, Team Germany leads with a slight edge over Team California, but so much lies ahead. Keep up with the latest minute-by-minute results.

Teams now need to prepare for the juried contests that start tomorrow along with the first dinner party, which is part of the Home Entertainment contest. Rest assured that all decathletes have worked up a good appetite by now!