For the past week, I've been inspired as I've watched (online) houses being erected along the National Mall. The U.S. Department of Energy is currently hosting 20 university teams from all over the world as part of the biennial Solar Decathlon competition. From Oct. 8-16, the teams compete in 10 contests (hence the decathlon), including architecture, market viability, engineering, lighting design, communications, comfort zone, hot water, appliances, home entertainment, and net metering. The houses open to the public on Oct. 9.
For years, the students have designed, created, and built the houses on their respective campus and are now recreating them in a matter of days. Each team's goal is to create the most attractive and energy-efficient solar-powered house. Most houses are so effective that they add power back to the local energy grid (maybe our energy bill will be lower this month