If you want to experience a natural high in Denver, the mile-high city, be there in early October to check out the hi-tech homes built by the brightest and best minds of a new generation. Every two years the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) organizes the Solar Decathlon where American and International teams of university students compete to build the most sustainable home.
This event is so exciting I want to literally jump with joy to celebrate the creative, positive forces of energy emanating from the students, as demonstrated in the photo above by participants from the California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo at the 2015 U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon in Irvine, California. (Credit: Thomas Kelsey/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon)
Linda Silverman, the Director of the U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon, reported to United States of Green that the student-built houses this year have a lot of green roofs and walls, urban gardens and a big emphasis on cleaning the air with nature. In addition, she revealed that the Decathlon has two new categories in the competition, innovation and water. So, we are certain to see more cool stuff about how to save and reuse water as in the house from the 2013 Decathlon, depicted below.
Pictured above is the University of Nevada, Las Vegas entry to the Solar Decathlon in 2013, DesertSol, a self-sufficient home designed to survive in a desert climate.
There are so many reasons to go to the Decathlon in Denver. I doubt one could go there without spending at least a whole day.
Like a kid in a candy store, I would want to enter each house and meet each team of students. Luckily your energy level can be conveniently sustained by local food trucks. And, your learning curve will benefit from both consumer and professional workshops about renewable energy and sustainable technology. There is an Electric Vehicle Ride and Drive experience on Saturday, October 14 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Visitors will be able to learn about incentives and money-saving opportunities, model features, the ins-and-outs of charging, and the positive environmental impacts of all-electric cars. Test driving is available as well! Visitors can also scrutinize a fuel-cell EV at the Solar Decathlon Sustainability Expo which will be open to on-site visitors throughout the competition.
Kristin Madding wrote about the location for the event in Denver on the U.S. DOE Blog: "We’ve picked a fitting spot at Peña Station Next, a burgeoning “smart city” located between downtown Denver and the airport. Here, our futuristic solar-powered village will set the stage for the new sustainable urban development in progress."
Pictured above is Paul Ahn of Stevens Institute of Technology who leads a team cheer onstage at the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2015 in Irvine, California. (Credit: Thomas Kelsey/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon)
If you can get away for a few days, October is a great time to plan a trip to Denver and share in the incredible love and passion of the students competing in this inspiring competition. The U.S. DOE needs to be congratulated for organizing this important event. For those coming by car, bike, bus, or, yes, even airplane, you can find directions to the event site here.
This awesome, free event will be open to the public from October 5-8 and 12-15. You will be able to leisurely tour these incredible homes and meet the amazing students. They clearly demonstrate that 100% self sufficient homes, capable of providing 21st century living standards, off grid, are not of the future, but here right now.
Mohammed Eifedal (left) and Alex McDonald of the University of California, Irvine; Chapman University; Irvine Valley College; and Saddleback College team hug in celebration of their second-place finish in the Engineering Contest at the 2015 U.S. Department of Energy in Irvine, California. (Credit: Thomas Kelsey/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon)
I asked Linda Silverman, the Director of the Solar Decathlon, what else visitors to the Decathlon do when they are in Denver. She paused, thinking: "There are so many exciting things going on in Denver." She enthused : "Go up to the mountains. Go to "Red Rocks Park."
I felt inspired and hopeful about our future after speaking with Linda and writing this post. One can see the love and good energy created by the Decathlon in the photo above. I can't help but hum the uplifting homage to Colorado, "Rocky Mountain High", the hugely successful folk rock song written by John Denver and Mike Taylor in 1972.
“The shadow from the starlight is softer than a lullabye
Rocky mountain high.....”
Rocky Mountain High is somewhat lamentful and, essentially, an environmental reflection on man's intrusion on the wonder of nature:
"Now his life is full of wonder, but his heart still knows some fear
Of a simple thing he cannot comprehend
Why they try to tear the mountains down to bring in a couple more
More people, more scars upon the land."
Luckily, the Solar Decathlon and the rainbow of students, teachers, architects and engineers involved will make man's footsteps a bit lighter by literally building the bright green future that good ole Mother Nature deserves.
Check out the video above about the 2017 Solar Decathlon.
See you soon Colorado!
Copyright 2017 Paul E McGinniss