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Photo of several young people seated around a table. There are plates of salad on the table and three pendant lights above.

Decathletes at Virginia Tech's Lumenhaus host neighbors from Cornell University, Team Germany, and Team Boston for a dinner party.
(Credit: Stefano Paltera/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon)

Photo of people outdoors, many with umbrellas or hats, and a modern-looking house in the background with a roof that appears to float.

Light rain showers did not deter eager visitors to Team Spain's house at Solar Decathlon 2009.
(Credit: Richard King/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon)

Photo of a young woman and young man in front of a hanging set of copper tubes and garden area.

Team Boston decathletes Deta Lula and Ian MacLellan pose in front of Curio.House's rainwater harvesting system.
(Credit: Robin Ashmore/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon)

Solar Decathlon 2009

Daily Journal - October 10, 2009

Village Shines Bright as Neighbors Gather for Dinner

Warm, pleasant, and memorable. Last night was a beautiful night to sit in the solar village and admire the Capitol lit up in the distance. The activity in the houses provided an extra-special occasion. Each of the teams held a dinner party for its neighbors as part of the Home Entertainment contest. Kitchens bustled with cooks preparing food, while guest decathletes delighted in hors d'oeuvres on porches and then moved inside for dinner. As I walked up and down the village, I enjoyed seeing all the decathletes talking and having a good meal. With their inside lights on, the houses glowed with warmth in the middle of the National Mall, creating one of the most unforgettable evenings I have ever experienced.

I'm envious of all the mouth-watering meals that were served! For example, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign presented dinner guests with polenta fritters with ricotta and dried tart cherry compote as an appetizer, chicken confit with corn and soy succotash as the main course, and rustic pear galette with aged chevre for dessert. Meanwhile, Team Spain pulled out all the stops and engaged the services of top-notch chef José Andrés (featured on PBS), who prepared a very sophisticated menu of olive "spherification," a special gazpacho, and 63-degree eggs served with Iberian ham, among other delights.

This morning, a few rain showers didn't dampen the mood as the houses opened for tours. Umbrellas and hats dotted the lines of eager visitors waiting to see inside. By about midday, the clouds dispersed, and the solar village enjoyed a mild, sunny afternoon.

Both sun and water resources are important for the teams. The rain clouds may have prevented them from collecting solar energy this morning, but they are happy to have rainwater to replenish the greywater recycling systems for their houses, landscaping, and herb gardens.

The Architecture, Communications, and Market Viability juries are finishing their judging today. However, the awards for Architecture and Market Viability will not be announced until Monday, Oct. 12, at 10 a.m.—when 200 points are potentially awarded, and the competition starts to gather momentum.

As we publish this, I want to recognize Illinois and Rice, which are neck and neck in the top two spots.