Sunday, October 18, 2009

Ray of Sunshine

First my apologies for posting yet another book list on Friday. Not just another book list, but the same one!
I guess we need to take our collective noses out of the books for a bit and pay attention. It's been several days of non-stop, cold, blowing rain and we're all bouncing off the walls a bit. But a break in the downpour yesterday gave us an chance to seize the day and attend one of my all time favorite happenings in Washington, DC -- The Solar Decathlon.

I had the opportunity to do two one-hour documentaries on this competition in past years and I fell in love. The cliff notes: 20 university teams from around the globe have 7 days to build (after 2 years of planning) an entirely functioning solar house on the National Mall, then they "live" in it and are judged in 10 categories (hence the decathlon) to see who made the best house.
(taking recycling to the next level at the Cornell University "Silo House")

(Team Germany goes ultra-mod and ultra-powerful with a house clad entirely in photovoltaic tiles - they won the competition)

(The wide array of architectural styles is part of what makes walking the Solar Village so much fun. Iowa State kept their house in line with the rural vernacular of their university home town.)

The spirit and ingenuity of these college kids is nothing short of breath taking. These kids are the best and brightest, and not in that claw-your-way-to-the-top kind of way, but in the most wholesome-let's-change-the-world kind of way. The houses are not just homes with solar panels slapped on top. They are symphonies of design and sustainability played out on a national stage for all to enjoy.
 (Fun meets functional at the University of Kentucky. Here you see modern art.)

 (Then the same pieces become a chair. They can also become a table. All sustainable materials too.)

 (passive meets active solar at a stylish crossroad)

(the louvered shades above are actually photovoltaic cells, so they produce electricity while they let in or block out the direct sunlight)

 I can't do this competition justice here, but I encourage you to check out the web site and visit the Solar Village virtually. And if you find yourself in DC in 2 years, make a point to stop by. It's free!
(almost all of the teams design and build their own furniture, from the light fixtures to the patio loungers)

(This is one of the sliding exterior walls on the Virginia Tech house. 1400 pieces all at a precise angle determined by some algorithmic formula to let in light and shine it back out again at night. But mathematic genius aside, it just looks fabulous. )
Zach liked the Virginia Tech house best "because it had a pond" - actually a grey water recycling system.

But after 4 days cooped up with cold rain, I think the boy was just happy to be out and about.


kate said...

oh my, that looks like SO much fun! What a great learning experience just to walk around and look at those houses...and that photo of Zach at the ben had me bursting into a grin:)

DC can be such a cool place. We're hoping to get out that way this spring, as Noah is deep into the American Revolution right now (and deep into watching that hilarious musical 1776 over and over again....)

PS- sorry 'bout the reader issues. I tried resetting feedburner, but not sure it worked? hmmmm...

Simple Mama said...

Wow! I would totally love to go and see this. Just the kind of thing that gets me really excited. Super Hubby and I were just talking last night about wanting to visit DC.

Joy said...

I have always wanted to visit that! I'm glad you had the opportunity. What a neat thing to experience! :)

Little Lovables said...

wow, these young people are geniuses.. maybe there IS hope for our future!

oh, and that last shot of zach is amazing!

Dim Sum, Bagels, and Crawfish said...

Great shots. My mom and my sister (along with others from Louisiana)made the trip to DC to see it and had a great time. Would love to see this in person one day.

SVAsterias said...

Oh, you had a much nicer day to visit. We would have welcomed the crowds--the body heat would have been an appreciated commodity. And I am envious of your photos; I was pretty camera shy in the deluge.

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