GW Team Chosen for 2013 Solar Decathlon

Visitors tour the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011 in Washington, D.C., Friday, Sept. 30, 2011. (Credit: Stefano Paltera/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon)
January 29, 2012

Students from four GW departments will collaborate with partners from Catholic and American universities.

A group of students from GW’s civil and environmental engineering, electrical and computer engineering, interior design and landscape design departments has been chosen to participate in the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2013 Solar Decathlon, to be held in Irvine, Calif. This is the first time that a team from GW has been selected. Twenty collegiate teams were chosen from across the globe.

The Solar Decathlon is a program that challenges teams from colleges and universities to design, build and operate solar-powered houses that are cost efficient, energy efficient and attractive. The winning team is the one that best blends affordability, consumer appeal and design excellence with energy production and efficiency.

Students from GW will partner with students from American University and Catholic University to form a regional collegiate team called Team Capitol DC, said David Dolling, dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science.

“Being selected as one of only 20 teams for this international competition is a tremendous achievement,” Dr. Dolling said. “Teams don’t make this cut if they haven’t demonstrated that they have an innovative spirit and creativity; a solid command of architecture, engineering and other technical skills; and the teamwork that pulls all of this together. Our students will learn a tremendous amount from this real-world engineering project that brings together specialists from several disciplines to complete a project with a real budget and a real deadline.”

Currently, 18 students from the four GW departments have been involved with planning and proposal submission, but more students will be involved as the design and construction phases proceed, said W.M. Kim Roddis, a professor and chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

In the past, the Solar Decathlon, which has been held biennially since 2002, was based in D.C., and teams set up and operated their solar-powered houses on the National Mall. Organizers decided to move the competition to Irvine, Calif.’s Orange County Great Park for 2013 because of the location’s emphasis on sustainability. The Solar Decathlon is free and open to the public and allows visitors to tour the houses, gather ideas to use in their own homes and learn about energy efficiency for today and for the future.