Monday, October 5, 2009

DOE's 2009 Solar Decathlon on the National Midway


UNSUSPECTING TOURISTS to the Mall for the next few weeks who think they'll be getting an unobstructed view of the Capitol from the Lincoln Memorial are in for a surprise. There before their very eyes, twenty supposedly cutting-edge solar houses are going up which form a sustainable living conclave up and down the Mall. This construction mayhem is called the Solar Decathlon 2009. Houses, landscapes, assorted decks and walkways are to be finished by October 9. Then they'll be on public display for two weeks. The Department of Energy will award three prizes for top designs. I want go back soon to tour these houses and make a few awards of my own. Already know the ones I like and dislike from a distance, but want to reserve judgment till the walk-thrus. Stay tuned, I'm not easily impressed. Still I'm interested to see if there is anything I would want to live and work in. So many of these contemporary houses are interesting to look at during the day, but I wouldn't want to live in them at night. Too much glass and exposure to the outside darkness at night. I find them cold and charmless.
Wild grasses are always part of a sustainable design though nothing new here.

Believe the house above is being built by the University of Louisana in Lafeyette. Beside being energy efficient, it's also designed to take a high-category hurricane. It has moveable shudders that can be closed at night to retain heat and cool (and a modicum of privacy). Of all the designs, I liked this one the best, but again, I want to go back and see these inside-and-out before choosing my favorite.

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