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WASHINGTON, DC - Team California today snagged the top spot in the Communications contest at the U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon.


Today's contest is the third out of ten contests that make up the international competition taking place on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.  Team California impressed jurors with the communications strategies, promotional materials, and people skills the team displayed while conveying the technical aspects of household solar energy systems to the public.


"Team California constructed an easy-to-navigate Web site with a user-friendly home page, which encourages further site exploration," said Communications Juror Jamie Van Mourik, who is with the U.S. Green Building Council.  "On the Mall, it is evident by their elaborate signage and ability to manage crowd flow, their communications plan was well though-out, offering a solid analysis to maximize educational opportunities."


Currently, twenty university-led teams from the United States, Canada, Germany, and Spain are competing in DOE's fourth Solar Decathlon to design, build, and operate houses powered by the sun.  Teams are competing in ten contests that evaluate several aspects of a home's appearance, such as architecture, market viability, and comfort that measure the way it optimizes efficiency and provides energy for space heating and cooling, hot water, home entertainment, lighting, and appliances.


Team California finished with 69.75 points, followed by Cornell University and Team Ontario/BC, which tied for second place with 66.75 points.  Team California leads in the overall standings with 403.5 points followed by Team Germany (401.2 points) and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (392.3 points).


For the Communications contest, teams earned points based on a number of subjective criteria, including audience analysis, quality and inventiveness of Web site content, presentation of visual aids, and memorable branding.  The panel of judges, made up of Web site developers and public relations experts, evaluated each team's Web site, communications plan, and student-led house tours.  Also, jurors considered whether the team effectively delivered their messages to target audiences, as well as to people with little technical understanding of solar energy systems.  Teams had the potential to earn up to 75 points.


Results from the next contest, Lighting Design, worth 75 points, will be announced Thursday, October 15 at 10:00am on the National Mall in the Solar Village.  An overall winner of the competition will be announced on Friday, October 16 at 8:00am.


Held on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., the Department of Energy Solar Decathlon is open to the public through Sunday, October 18.  The houses are open for tours weekdays from 11:00am to 3:00pm and weekends 10:00am to 5:00pm. 


For full event information, current standings, high-resolution photos and video, an event schedule and daily results, visit the Solar Decathlon website.

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