On Earth Day 2023, I was a Juror at the Solar Decathlon!
On Earth Day, April 22nd, 2023, I was invited to be a judge for the Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon for the Retrofit Housing competition. As an architect, it was so exciting to be invited to this event because as a student in 2004 at the University of Texas I worked on the research for the entry that the School of Architecture submitted. Back then it was still a competition that included the invited finalist to go to Washington DC and construct their designs on the National Mall. It was an amazing event from the perspective of a public exhibition. Visitors could go through the houses and see how energy efficiency could be incorporated into their homes and lives.
Fast forward to 2023, the solar Decathlon was held in Denver Colorado, student contestants come from across the world, and it encompasses a few more categories including Retrofit Housing. The Retrofit Housing Competition is a newer category but one that is near and dear to my own heart. The idea is to address the challenge of updating and modernizing the existing housing across the United States. The solutions were each unique and inspiring. The students took into consideration the obvious, meaning, better insulation, better windows, appliances, and plumbing fixtures and alternative energy generation but also, they considered things like waste management, water conservation, passive design, community engagement and revitalization and promoting equity.
I was incredibly impressed by the level of hard work that went into each project. The students were engaged and passionate about their work. Every day we hear about the impact of climate change on this planet and the news is not good. However, here was some good news! This is the next generation, and they are making a difference. They know the challenges that they will be facing and are meeting them head on. I came away inspired and hopeful.
If you’re interested in learning more about the competition you can check out the YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/user/doesolardecathlon
And also, at the Solar Decathlon website here: