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Ready, Set, Solar!

A group of Rice University students is competing in the nation’s Capitol to build the best solar efficient home. A panel of architects and engineers will judge the team this week. Sara Sciammacco reports from Washington.


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David Dewane spent two years designing and building a row house that now sits right in the middle of the National Mall. He and the Rice team trucked it up from Texas and reassembled it last week.

“So basically it is a long simple rectangular…”

The 29-year-old architecture student is competing in this year’s Solar Decathlon — drawing 20 teams from around the world. The Rice team’s modest one-bedroom home is made of white aluminum and surrounded by a green wall of plants that keeps it cool. Dewayne says the solar panels on the roof transform the sun’s rays into electricity to power the home.

“It is not super sexy but we are trying to win over the public that I guess that is coming through for so they leave the Mall with a sense like ‘wow that you know, maybe I can afford this’.”

Some competitors plan to sell their environmentally-friendly homes or use them for research. The Rice students will donate theirs to Project Row Houses, a Houston-based organization that will match it with a deserving family. Engineering student Roque Sanchez says it will be nice to know all of his hard work will help his neighbors in need.

“When you can say, I can roll my meter backwards and I am not going to have an energy bill — I think that really gets people excited. The biggest cost for them is their energy costs take that away and they can do a lot more work with what they got.”

The competition comes as Congress debates climate change legislation that could spur the green energy industry, and make these homes more affordable for everyone.

From Capitol News Connection Sara Sciammacco KUHF-Houston Public Radio News

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