A temporary village of full-sized, solar-powered houses will open for public viewing on Oct. 5 next to the 61st and Peña A Line station. The 12 houses lining the village’s main street are entries in “Solar Decathlon 2017,” a competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. Teams will be judged by ten criteria (hence, the term “decathlon”) including innovation, smart energy use, market potential, and water use and re-use strategies.
In this eighth Solar Decathlon, cash prizes will be awarded for the first time, with $350,000 going to the winning team. All 12 participating teams have been granted $100,000 stipends to help defray the considerable expense of research, design, construction and transport of the high-tech structures. The level of effort demanded of the participants is such that DOE refers to the student team members as “decathletes.”
But it takes people to make a village and so, the public is invited to attend the event free of charge on nine days over two long weekends:
- Thursday, Oct. 5–Sunday, Oct. 8 from 11am to 7pm
- Monday, Oct. 9 from 1pm to 7pm
- Thursday, Oct. 12–Sunday, Oct. 15 from 11am–7pm
The Solar Decathlon event can be accessed from the A Line station or, by car, from Tower Road via either 60th or 61st Avenues.
This is the first Solar Decathlon to be located in Denver. The inaugural event was held in Washington, D.C., and the winning team was the University of Colorado at Boulder. This year, a team comprised of students from the University of Denver and the University of California at Berkeley is among the finalists. Other teams come from around the country as well as Switzerland and the Netherlands.
In addition to tours of the solar houses themselves, attendees can choose from a wide range of consumer and homeowner workshops. Topics include solar technologies, the renewable energy economy, passive house design, a “Solar and Related Industries Career Fair,” and water-saving techniques. One session, titled “The Making of a Smart City,” provides an introduction to Peña Station NEXT, the 382-acre mixed-use development at the 61st and Peña station being spearheaded by Panasonic Enterprise Solutions.
A Sustainability Expo of energy technologies rounds out the offerings. It includes an opportunity to test drive a variety of electric vehicles.
A detailed schedule of events and workshops can be accessed at the DOE website: www.solardecathlon.gov.