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Practice : Winter 2010
fEaTuRE ] solaR dEcaThloN The 2009 US Department of Energy Solar Decathlon competition challenged students to design and develop houses that c an provide their own energy from sunlight — a clean, renew able sourc e of energy. Twenty collegiate te ams from the United States, Ca nada , Spain and Germany built c ompletely self-sufficient solar powered houses, showc a sing energy-e fficient a meni- ties and smart home systems that provide reduc ed c arbon emissions without sacrific- ing the comfort of modern convenience s. “ The Solar Decathlon highlights President Obama’s goal of improving our nationa l se curity and transforming the economy by using off-the-shelf, clea n energy technologies to reduc e our dependenc e on foreign sourc es of oil, reduc e our carbon emission s, a nd protect the environment. As part of the build- ing competition, the next generation of green engineers, a rchitects, de signers, a nd profes sion als g ain valuable experienc e that will help them to lead America toward a clean energy future,” sa id U.S . Energy Secretary Steven Chu, who wa s present at the opening ceremony on the National Mall to greet the students person ally. Upon completion of the competition, our Project Director s reflected on their experienc e. colin booth, project manager, bachelor of architecture candidate “A s happen s so often in architecture, the completion of a project can be a nticlimactic, with no definitive and exciting end to a long a nd monumenta l effort. The Curio House project, our 2009 Sol ar Decathlon entry, is no exc eption. The de sign and con struction of a building is only the gestation a nd birth, not the life. I find myself suddenly less interested in the story of the last two and a half years and more interested now in how to help the house settle, grow, a nd expand into an entire community on Cape Cod, the Hou sing Assistanc e C orporation’s Communit y Green. The competition in Washington D.C . foc used so inten sely on the judging criteria of a single competition week that the substance of the building’s life was unable to b e ta ken into con sider- ation. Ah, but this house ha s just been born; a nd now, when so ma ny of the country’s problems stem from the que st for shortsight- ed returns or hyper-marketing, isn’t it time to focus on the long term quality of life?” stephen messinger, sponsorship and construction, master of architecture candidate “In my five years as an archi- tecture student at the BAC, I have had no greater or more re warding experienc e than taking part in the Solar Decathlon. I felt truly exhila rated in the nation’s c apita l, standing in the middle of a house I helped to de sign and build, while explaining how the de sign intent a nd finished product The power of a vision: Team boston doE solar decathlon competition hac community green site plan, sandwich ma. coldham & hartman architects 44 pRacTIcE