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Solar Decathlon 2013: It's Not What You Think

Lois Lee |
September 19, 2013 | 9:22 a.m. PDT

Contributing Writer

Visitors and team members view central retractable skylight (Lois Lee)
Visitors and team members view central retractable skylight (Lois Lee)
Ever wonder how ideas get built—literally? How a team of architects, engineers and contractors come together to make a tangible building? Starting in October, curious minds everywhere are invited to tour 20 new solar-powered houses in Irvine, Calif. designed by collegiate teams all over the world at the 2013 Solar Decathlon.

The U.S. Department of Energy-sponsored competition brings together 20 international teams to design and create the most efficient, cost-effective and attractive homes operating solely on solar power.

The Decathlon provides viewers the opportunity to experience many layers of architecture. These layers exist as 10 categories for the competition—architecture, affordability, appliances, comfort zones, communication, energy balance, engineering, home entertainment, hot water usage and market appeal. Each solar-powered home is designed to integrate all of these aspects.

The competition will be open to the public Oct. 3-13 at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, Calif. It will be the first time the event takes place outside of Washington, D.C.

Of the 20 schools, The University of Southern California will compete with their prototype, fluxHome™, which has been developed by both architecture and engineering students over the past year and a half. Before the home gets disassembled to be transported as smaller modules to Orange County, the house was open for the public to view and get a small taste of what the Solar Decathlon competition will be like.

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