Housing Complex

Enjoy This Year’s Solar Decathlon, It’s Probably D.C.’s Last

A rendering of the Parsons school's entrant. (DOE Flickr Feed)

Remember that whole brouhaha about the Solar Decathlon needing to move off the National Mall in order to preserve the grass? It ended up in West Potomac Park in late September, which seemed to mollify participants, who feared having to shlep to National Harbor. Next year, however, the Department of Energy is inviting bids for other venues, looking to move the 10-year-old event outside D.C. altogether "in an effort to expand the excitement generated by the competition and encourage participation from new communities."

That's certainly a loss for the District, and participants might grumble about losing the prestige of America's front yard. It's hard to argue the essential fairness of spreading the love around, though.

  • er

    that sucks. this is one of my favorite events on the mall.

  • kob

    I hate to be conspiracy theorists, but I'm extremely suspicious of what's going on here.

    The Solar Decathlon is an eye-opening event. To see houses, even those designed for Canadian climates, operating at such a level of energy efficiency that they sell power back to the electric grid, is just exceptional.

    The decathlon competitors have also been reducing the costs of these home to make them competitive. I can't wait to see how much progress they have made in this year's event.

    These types of homes represent the future of home building in America. But fostering their development means bucking big oil, the electric companies, the coal building industry, etc. etc.

    Holding the Solar Decathlon within sight of the U.S. Capitol put the technological advances here in front of lawmakers. I don't see what's gained by pushing this to the fringes of the National Mall or by moving out of Washington, one of the top tourist destinations in the U.S.

    Personally, I think this is an effort to marginalize the decathlon and get it out of sight and mind from lawmakers.

    Moving the decathlon out of DC isn't a matter of "fairness" but more of subterfuge.

  • Eric

    I can't help but think there might be an inkling of truth to kob's suspicions.

  • Sarah

    It surely was a good thing to hold the solar decathlon on the mall, but have you seen the state of the grass lately? The national mall looks more like the national neglected back yard. All we need is an old car resting up on blocks to make it complete. If we're not going to shell out the money necessary to fix it, at least we can do our best to halt the worst of the destruction.

  • rugby

    By moving the Decathlon out of D.C., and rotating it yearly to major cities such as NYC, LA, Chicago, San Fran, Houston, Seattle, etc., it will give this great competition MUCH MORE notoriety, visibility and accessibility to Americans as a whole.

    Right now, only people in D.C. and the competitors have knowledge of its existence. You could ask 100 people in other major U.S. cities what the Solar Decathlon is, and 98% will have no clue. That's sad. Why keep this national treasure visible/accessible to only such a relatively small segment of the U.S. population?

    When it moves to other cities, it will get exposure to a whole new audience who will appreciate the ideas they are seeing and some may even try to implement those ideas into their own communities.

    It will also give the competitors a chance to design and build for other regions and climates...again something that would benefit America as a whole.

    I'm now laughing at the people in D.C. who were whining that they'd have "schlep" (hardly!!) outside the precious invisibible boundry of their beloved city a few more miles (literally!) to see the Decathlon, because now they will most likely lose it altogether to OTHER great American cities. Boo-hoo to you!

    I say this idea to move it to other U.S. cities is a GREAT IDEA! Share the Decathlon love, spread it around for all to see and appreciate. Out of this will come greater knowledge and future innovation for all Americans.

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