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Santa Clara University Kicks-Off 2009 Solar Decathlon in Washington, D.C.

Thursday, Oct. 8, 2009

SANTA CLARA, Calif. Oct. 8, 2009 – Let the games begin! For the next eight days, students from Santa Clara University and California College of the Arts in San Francisco will face-off against hundreds of others from the U.S., Canada, and Europe to prove to the world that their solar-powered home is one lean, mean, energy-efficient machine.

And fans can play a roll in the competition by nominating their favorite house for the People’s Choice award—which is given out at the end of the decathlon at the awards ceremony. SCU fans can vote by texting “HOUSE31” to 99503.

Allison Kopf, SCU’s student project manager, joined Energy Secretary Steven Chu at the opening ceremony on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., today to help kick-off the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2009 Solar Decathlon.

“We are here today to show the world the power of solar and energy-efficient design,” said Kopf, 20-year-old junior at SCU. “We imagine a future where you’ll generate freely from the sun with the help of innovative technology and sustainable materials. We believe we can create a healthier, more comfortable living space.”

The SCU team, called Team California, is the only team from the Golden State and the West Coast competing in the Solar Decathlon. For two years, she and some 200 students designed, engineered, and built an 800-square-foot solar-powered house. After countless hours of sawing, drilling, and hammering, the students disassembled the home, trucked it to the National Mall, and then reassembled it next to 19 other solar-powered homes.

The experience the students have gained from the project will take them to new heights, but as Kopf explained, they still have far more work to do.

“We will shape the environmental future of this world. We will educate children and adults. We will make every home under the sun be powered by the sun. That’s what the Solar Decathlon is all about,” said Kopf.

After the opening ceremony, the students opened their homes to the public for tours. Thousands of people packed the Mall to get their first glimpse of Team California’s uniquely shaped house, which wraps around an outdoor deck made of reclaimed wood. Some of the other earthy-friendly features include:

  • A greywater system, created by students, to filter and reroute water used in the washer and dishwasher to irrigate the landscaping;
  • A monitoring system that tracks energy and water consumption and production in real-time;
  • An iPhone application, designed by students, to open/close windows and turn on/off lights, appliances, and the entertainment system, even if the user is thousands of miles away.


During the next week, judges will grade each house as students use their home like any homeowner would. They must make dinner, do laundry, and even host movie night for their neighbors. The 10 areas of the competition are: architecture, engineering, market viability, communications, comfort, appliances, hot water, lighting, energy balance, and transportation. The winners will be announced on Oct. 16.


Media Contact:

  • Connie Kim Coutain | | 408-554-5126 office | 408-829-4836 cell
  • Brenda Tucker | | 415-703-9548 office | 415-336-7528 cell
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