The Solar Decathlon-taking place on the National Mall October 12 - 20- is an exciting competition in which 20 teams of college and university students from across the country, including four international teams, compete to design, build, and operate the most attractive, effective, and energy-efficient solar-powered house. The house must also be able to power an electric vehicle as well as be "off the grid." These solar homes are powerful, comfortable, and stylish. They are relaxed and elegant, wasting neither space nor energy. High efficiency solar houses like these are using readily available technology and designs-not futuristic concepts. But policies like stronger building codes and the solar provisions in the energy bill are essential in helping make our homes greener and much more efficient-saving both energy and money.
In addition to discussing the Solar Decathlon, the briefing addressed the role of codes and standards in building energy efficiency. Measures to promote increased residential building energy efficiency are included in the House energy bill HR 3221, Title IX, Sec. 9031. "Encouraging Stronger Building Codes." The briefing panel also discussed the solar provisions in the energy bill, including tax incentives for solar energy.
Visit the Solar Decathlon website for more information on the Decathlon and to access their registry of products used in the competition houses.
On October 17, 2007, the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) held a Congressional briefing featuring the Solar Decathlon and the value of incorporating high-performance "green" design in buildings. The briefing also discussed how provisions in the pending energy bill can help improve efficient homes. Buildings account for more than 40 percent of annual U.S. energy use and are, in turn, responsible for more than one-third of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Because buildings last many decades, the economic, environmental and health impacts of inefficient building design are long-lasting.