Here?s something fun to distract us from the drudgery of legislative wrangling and the death of oil.
GreenTechreports that the 20 teams in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon have started building their green homes of the futureon the National Mall. Energy Secretary Steven Chu is talking to the groups today and the homes will be open to the public tomorrow.
These 800-square-foot Frankensteins are all powered by solar energy, but they vary widely in their design. Some are pret-a-porter and can be built with materials from Home Depot, while others are couture models.
The teams compete in contests over architecture, comfort, net metering and then vie for the overall prize.
Of note: Rice University has found a buyer for its $140,000 Zerow House, Martin LaMonica reports, and so has Team Boston.
We are biased towardsTeam Alberta?s SolAbode, for whom GER?s childhood friend, University of Calgary urban planning student Johann Kyser, is a project manager for 2011 (but he’s actually in D.C. with the team).
The SolAbode home reflects the rugged landscape of Alberta with a ?design that incorporates a fundamental element of the Canadian Rocky Mountain lodge vernacular: wooden post-and-beam construction.?
The home uses LED lights, has a central programmable control panel and doesn?t ask occupants to give up too much since the design is guided by the principal that ?energy savings shall not result from reductions in thermal comfort or indoor air quality.?
The decathlon and similar events happen every year, but the designs are seeming less pie in the sky now that government is plowing billions into greentech. This is what you might call a ground floor investment opportunity.
If you?re in D.C., rush out and see these homes.
Photo: Angel Borrego Cubero/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon