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2007 Solar Decathlon Closing Ceremony and Awards

October 19, 2007 - 3:21pm


Remarks as Prepared for Secretary Bodman

Thank you, Andy.  I want to thank you once again for your leadership in making the Solar Decathlon such a success.  The Solar Decathlon is now a permanent part of America.

I also want to thank everyone sponsors, DOE employees, Members of Congress, any parents and faculty who might be with us and anyone else who came out this week in support of our decathletes.

This has really been a remarkable event, one that has attracted crowds like we have not seen before.  I've seen people from all over the country and from all walks of life down here on the Mall, keenly interested in the houses and the decathletes.

And, to our decathletes I say, this past week has belonged to you.  You have shown all of us how the spirit of inventiveness, how inspiration and knowledge can be put to use solving critical, real world problems.

During the opening ceremonies I talked to you about the opportunity to participate in the Solar Decathlon being one of the best parts of my job.  I've been down here many times I walked around and talked with you while the houses were going up and I've been down here to tour the houses and see firsthand what you've accomplished.

I'm an engineer by training.  And I later made a career out of helping to link new technologies and new ideas with the market capital needed to commercialize them.  And I'm very impressed by what I've seen.  The technology we see on display here works.  I don't think I can pay it any higher compliment than that.

What I've seen here over the past two weeks represents, in my judgment, developments in solar technology and home construction that you may and in some cases can, see replicated around the United States.

The winning 2002 University of Colorado house is now the core of a bigger house owned by the former president of the Solar Energies Industries Association.  The Rhode Island School of Design house from 2005 is being installed as faculty housing at a private school in Portsmouth.  The previous two University of Missouri at Rolla entries are being used as student housing.  And the New York Institute of Technology's 2005 house is permanently installed at the United States Merchant Marine Academy as a renewable energy research center.

Today we culminate a two year process but as we do, we're taking our first steps down the road toward our next effort.  The request for proposals for Solar Decathlon 2009 is already up on the Solar Decathlon website.  And let me say that the next group of Solar Decathletes will have their work cut out for them.  This year's competition has set new standards for the future.

The 20 teams in the competition make it the largest ever and, with teams from Germany, Canada and Spain, the most diverse.  We've also drawn the largest crowds and the most media attention we've ever seen.

It may also interest you to know that just yesterday we signed an agreement with Spain to host the first Solar Decathlon Europe in 2010.  We're proud to support this event and I know Richard King is proud to see that his idea has taken root so well and is expanding its influence around the world.

The Solar Decathlon is a great demonstration of the ways in which technology, science and design can be blended in the production of net Zero Energy homes.  For some of you, this may even be the beginning of your careers.  I know that some members of the 2005 Cornell team have gone into business designing custom, energy efficient homes that are now going up all across the United States.

But the Solar Decathlon is also a part of a larger effort to educate the public about technologies potential to change the way America consumes energy.  One of our goals is to see the commercial production of cost-neutral net Zero Energy homes by 2020.  The Department is working with America's building and construction industry to do this through DOE's Building Technologies Program.

Today, I'm pleased to announce the Department is making up to $44.1 million available to support the commercialization and promotion of solar and energy efficient technologies.  Up to $4.1 million of that funding will be used to establish centers that promote these technologies to the building trades and homeowners.

Up to $40 million will, over the next five years, be used as part of DOE's Building America program to support the development of building methods that take a whole house approach to energy efficiency.  These funds will go to four Building America contract teams Building Science Corporation, IBACOS, the Consortium of Advanced Residential Buildings and the Building Industry Research Alliance.

The homes they will develop are 50-70 percent more energy efficient than homes built to current code guidelines.  Like the homes on display here at the Solar Decathlon, these Building America homes will incorporate solar and other onsite renewable systems to provide the balance of their energy needs.

And I fully expect they may incorporate some of the technologies you see on display here like the translucent roof atop the Georgia Institute of Technology's entry that employs a new technology already in use in large scale buildings around the world.  Or the structural bamboo I-beams in the Santa Clara University house.  Or the liquid desiccant waterfall that removes humidity with very little energy, greatly reducing the job of the air conditioner that the University of Maryland has on display in its house.

But our focus on moving new technologies from the laboratory to the marketplace doesn't end with the conclusion of the decathlon.  We are constantly looking for ways in which we can help accelerate the commercialization of energy efficient technologies to make them available for use by consumers sooner than they otherwise might be.

Promoting the early commercialization of these and other energy efficient technologies is an important part of what we do at the Department of Energy.  So you see, the Solar Decathlon is about more than the blending of science, technology and design in an academic competition; its about real innovations in building design, innovations that will change the way America uses energy by making future homes more energy efficient.

I am personally proud to be part of this event.  And I am personally proud of the decathletes that make up the 20 teams and their advisors who have worked so hard to get here today.  All of you have made a valuable contribution to America's secure energy future and I want everyone here to give you all a hand.

With that, it is my great pleasure now to announce the winners of the 2007 Solar Decathlon.

In third place, Santa Clara University.
In second place, University of Maryland.

And the winner of the 2007 Solar Decathlon is the team from Germany, Technische Universität Darmstadt

Location: The National Mall in Washington, D.C.

Media contact(s): Andy Beck, (202) 586-4940