the u.s. department of energy has announced the participation of scholastic teams from the United States, Canada, and Spain in the second annual Solar Decathlon to be held this October in Washington, D.C. A forum for innovative and experimental ideas in architecture, engineering, and technology that can be applied to building homes in order to produce energy, the collegiate and university-level teams will compete by building and operating an energy-efficient solar-powered home, approximately 800 square feet in size. They have been designing, researching, testing, and building these projects for the past two years at their respective academic institutions. Periodic project summaries, a schematic energy analysis report, construction documents, and plans for arrival, assembly, and dismantling of the houses have been submitted throughout the two-year development process.

The final phase of the competition will commence September 29, when the homes are assembled on the National Mall, creating a 'solar village.' Starting October 6, teams will compete in 10 contests, evaluated in categories that include architecture, livability, comfort, and power generation for heating and cooling, hot water, lights, appliances, and an electric car. The public will be able to tour all 18 homes from October 7 to 16 with the exception of October 12. The 'solar village' will also play host to exhibits and activities addressing energy efficiency and renewable energy.

The first decathlon in 2002 showcased projects with translucent walls to provide light and insulation, and fiber optic cables attached to solar collectors to transmit light into a home. No doubt, this year's projects will be equally if not more innovative. For more information, visit A|L