One of our favorite events in the world of sustainable innovation, the Solar Decathlon, is again being kicked off the National Mall. In January of this year, the National Park Service temporarily banned the event from its 8-year spot on the National Mall, and while organizers rushed looking for a new venue, the Park Service conceded a strip of grass for the 2011 competition. Now the Park Service is at it again, and the 2013 Solar Decathlon is searching for a new location and a new partner. We think this probably has something to do with the current competition for a National Park redesign, but future construction aside, the Mall is losing a great event.
The Solar Decathlon is a biennial competition that challenges 20 collegiate teams from around the world to design and build a working, solar-powered home. After initial construction in each of the team’s home towns, the houses are brought to one location — historically, the National Mall — and spend 10 days battling each other in 10 design and technical competitions. The team with the highest total score (this year Watershed from the University of Maryland) is crowned the winner.
The DOE just released a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) and are calling for initial submissions for proposed locations by November 7th. They are seeking a location that would allow local city and state governments to be involved with the event — it is quite an undertaking, as we’ve learned first-hand on site.
Wherever the Solar Decathlon should land, it will be a huge plus for the community that surrounds it. Though the final location will have to foot a large part of the bill for the competition — private investors and the DOE will put up the rest — they’re sure to reap the fruits of the thousands of visitors that attend the competition each year, in addition to the array of on-site employment opportunities that present themselves during the competition.
The DOE is opening up submissions to a number of different organizations, including universities (hosting the Decathlon does not prohibit a university from also entering a home in the competition). Where it will be next, only time will tell, as the DOE makes it obvious they’re open to just about any location.