Here Comes the Sun


A village of 20 one-of-a-kind houses will spring up on the National Mall from October 8 to 18. These compact, modular abodes will bring the latest solar technologies to the forefront as teams from 20 colleges and universities compete to design, build and operate the most attractive energy-efficient solar-powered homes.

The fourth occurrence of this event since its inception in 2002, the 2009 Solar Decathlon will host teams from the U.S., Canada, Germany and Spain. Each home in the competition must produce enough electricity and hot water from solar panels to perform all the normal functions of a home—from powering the lights to cooking, washing clothes and dishes and maintaining a comfortable temperature. Homes will be open to the public for tours from October 9 to 13 and October 15 to 18.

“As part of the building competition, the next generation of green engineers, architects, designers and professionals gains valuable experience that will help them to lead America toward a clean energy future,” says Steven Chu, secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy, which sponsors the Solar Decathlon. For more information, visit