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Photo of four people smiling and cheering. One is holding a vase of light bulbs.

Teammates from the University of Minnesota celebrate their first-place award in the Lighting Design contest.
(Credit: Stefano Paltera/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon)

Photo of a tall glass vase containing five light bulbs.

Illustrating an economical approach to lighting design, the University of Minnesota's entire house used the same amount of energy as these five light bulbs.
(Credit: Stefano Paltera/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon)

Photo of many people with umbrellas walking along Decathlete Way with the Capitol in the distance.

A rainy day brings a sea of umbrellas. Visitors weathered the rain to tour houses at the Solar Decathlon.
(Credit: Stefano Paltera/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon)

Solar Decathlon 2009

>Daily Journal - October 15, 2009

Final Countdown Begins!

More twists and turns ensued in the standings today. The University of Illinois took the overall lead, with Team California nipping directly at their heels. Team Ontario/BC and Team Germany follow closely in third and fourth place, with fewer than 10 points separating these top four teams!

A sea of umbrellas can be seen in the village, but the decathletes are keeping their spirits up despite the rain. I saw students from Team Ontario/BC leading a small parade by riding tandem bikes and pedicabs down Jefferson Drive while singing and ringing a cowbell just to "let loose a bit and relieve some stress."

This morning, Lighting Design juror Ron Kurtz presented the winners of that contest. He noted that the jury was unanimously impressed with the level of design and professionalism exhibited.

First Place: University of Minnesota

Kurtz praised the University of Minnesota for a home that responded well to the differences between summer and winter solar angles. Lighting controls were simple to operate, and exterior lighting was well integrated into the architecture. On receiving the award, a Minnesota team member commented that their goal was to use only 500 watts (or the equivalent of five incandescent light bulbs) to light the entire house, including the interior and exterior—which they did successfully.

Second Place: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The jury was pleased with this lighting design, which could be applied to any home. Jurors also commented on the excellent ambient lighting without glare and the "beautiful, simple, and understated manner" in which the LED modules illuminated the façade.

Third Place (Tie): Penn State and Team Germany

Penn State presented a lighting design that jurors lauded for "good views to the exterior and a nicely integrated clerestory that permitted good daylight." Kurtz commended Team Germany for "interior spaces that were agreeably rendered with internally illuminated solid-state RGB panels that were neither glaring nor garish."

Lighting Design Contest Jurors:

  • Nancy Clanton, Clanton & Associates
  • Ron Kurtz, Randy Burkett Lighting Design
  • Naomi Miller, Naomi Miller Lighting Design

Only a few hours of scoring opportunities remain. The competition officially ends at 10 p.m. tonight, when scoring for all contests, whether subjective or objective, comes to a close. The drama, however, continues to build. It's just amazing to see what has happened so far. Penn State, for example, had a late start and received no points for the first two days of the competition. But through hard work and determination, this team managed to win an award in the Lighting Contest and has moved from 19th to 14th place—an outstanding result.

At the time of this posting, less than two points separate first and second place. Tomorrow morning's results of the Engineering contest will shape the final results, and, only moments later, the overall winners will be announced. Whether they're fully awake or not, all the student competitors are sure to be paying attention at the 8 a.m. Awards Ceremony!