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As a matter of fact, I believe this is impossible. Very few individuals and even fewer politicians would succeed in making this a winning referendum. Buy RE Anyway OK, if we're going to forget a mass protest for higher prices, how can we move toward higher energy prices? After pushing for the removal of dirty energy subsidies, the most realistic way to pay more for energy, right here, right now, is to invest our own money in our own RE systems.

If you sit still, close your eyes, breathe deeply, and ground yourself into a peaceful state of inner knowing, you will realize that we do need much higher energy prices to balance the decades of fossil fuel dependence.


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It feels like truth, no matter how much your head and wallet want to protest. And you can make it happen for yourself! One thing is for sure, a major paradigm shift is needed and seems poised to happen. Most Americans simply will not buy solar-electric systems out of the goodness of their hearts to help the planet. There are too many other priorities, such as educating the kids, putting food on the table, or buying that home theatre system. The right mix of personal choices, higher energy costs, and less reliability could turn these priorities upside down. Maybe a paradigm shift of this magnitude will see neighbors showing off their PV systems rather than their new cars or stereos I hope it happens sooner rather than later.

Access Mark W. Bechen exeloncorp. The Solar Decathlon set some new examples for home building and brought fourteen teams together to share knowledge and compete. Imagine fourteen solar homes planted on the National Mall in Washington, D. Teams of university students display their best energy efficient home designs, competing with each other while learning from each other. Thousands of people cruise the mall, learning about energy efficiency and renewable energy. Even a few Congressional representatives and staff see that solar energy works. Pipe dream? No, it's the Solar Decathlon!

Backwoods Home Magazine #85 - Jan/Feb 2004

The Solar Decathlon is a new Department of Energy DOE event where colleges and universities compete to design and build the best solar powered house. The first competition was held from September 19 to October 9, on the National Mall, between the Capitol building and the Washington Monument. Fourteen teams competed in this first event. Most teams consisted of a mix of architecture and engineering students. The houses were limited to square feet 74 m 2 maximum footprint, with at least square feet 42 m 2 of conditioned space.

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They could use only the energy of the sunlight falling on them. They were transported to Washington, D. All houses had stand-alone electrical systems. The idea was to create a solar house that could maintain all of the elements of the American lifestyle. The Solar Decathlon is a contest of ingenuity and design instead of athleticism, and consists of ten contests.

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Each contest, with the exception of Design and Livability, was worth points. Design and Livability: This competition had twice the weight of each of the others, and was decided by a panel of architecture judges. Design Presentation and Simulation: The structural drawings and computer simulations of performance were evaluated by a panel of engineers. Graphics and Communication: Each team conducted tours, published a Web site, and wrote and distributed newsletters, which were judged on content and effective presentation. A panel of raising all of the funds needed to compete.

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The teams had two years from the request for proposals to the time of the competition. Once the teams arrived on the Mall, they had nine days to assemble the homes before the first tours. The Turnout The contest drew an estimated , people to the National Mall over the two weekends the houses were open for tours.

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Hundreds of people stood in long lines to get a tour of the most popular houses. Hometown newspapers carried frequent updates on the progress of their towns' teams. Fox, C-Span, and others carried live TV coverage of the event. Architecture and engineering engineering judges considered consumer appeal, innovation, and integration. Refrigeration: NREL staff looked for adequate temperatures in the fridge and freezer, and an engineering panel judged refrigerator innovation. Energy Balance: The houses had to generate as much electrical energy during the week as they consumed.

Lighting: The houses had to be well lit through a combination of electric lights and daylighting. Home Business: Each house was required to run a computer and printer to produce daily newsletters and respond to e-mail. Getting around: Each team used an identical Ford Think Neighbor to drive around town, and the maximum number of miles won. Indeed, the event has been called a solar Woodstock. The turnout was not limited to the general public. The Secretary of Energy, Spencer Abraham, spoke at the opening ceremonies, and toured several of the houses during the competition.

Word has it that he was so impressed during his official tour that he came back the next day with his whole family. Several senators and representatives came down to cheer on their favorite teams. Notably absent was the President, who didn't show, despite two of his home state's schools being represented.

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It was an effective synthesis of the traditional southern "dogtrot" design separate house sections connected by a walkway and new technologies like solar electricity and passive solar heating. A sundial in front of the house represented one of the oldest and most visual technologies that uses sunlight. Inside, the team used "solar megaphones" skylights filled with prisms that amplify sunlight for daylighting , which are the most efficient source of solar daylighting on the market. The house is aesthetically pleasing and functional. Large water-filled cylinders decorate the rooms of the home and also moderate the house's temperature.

The water acts as a thermal mass that helps the home stay cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. Because space is at a premium in the city the team decided that it would not be viable to build a one-story square foot 74 m 2 house, as the competition rules suggest. This team felt that two-story houses are a much more efficient use of space. So even though it resulted in losing 48 points in the competition, they built the house that was best for its final destination.

In keeping with the urban design, a large rooftop deck contains a garden under a canopy of evacuated tube hot water collectors. Galen Burrel — University of Colorado Crowder College Can a two-year technical school in rural Missouri compete against the best schools in the nation?

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You bet! Crowder's winning solar car team went for bigger goals this year. They constructed their solar powered house using electricity from their portable solar trailer, on their campus and at the mall — the only school that didn't use a gasoline generator for construction on the mall! No diesel powered cranes or forklifts were used in the construction either.

They were the only team who off-loaded their house completely with hand cranks and jacks.

The Crowder team was also different in their use of solar energy. They used amorphous thin film, BP Millennia photovoltaic modules, instead of crystalline silicon modules like other teams. The modules were integrated into a standing seam metal roof so you could barely tell they were there. Crowder's unique water heating system used the waste heat from their PV modules. A system of copper tubes was attached to the back of the modules, and an extra layer of glazing was added above the modules.

This effectively turned each module into the absorber plate of a flat plate solar water heating collector. University of Colorado at Boulder Colorado set out to destroy many of the notions of what is "required" for a solar house. The roof is almost 20 degrees flatter than the optimum slope see PV Orientation by Zeke Yewdall, in HP93 , and part of it faces southwest.

Their hot water collectors are flat, but have tilted absorber plates in the evacuated tubes.

Another guiding theme was that everything in the house is commercially available and mass produced. The team had trouble keeping people out, or keeping them from plopping down on the couch during tours and just staying!