O.C.’s Solar Decathletes

How a small and innovative band of O.C. students are making the future a little brighter
Casa del Sol, the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon entry by Team Orange County

Rendering by LPA

We never get tired of spotlighting local overachievers, such as the 100+ students from UC Irvine, Irvine Valley College, Chapman University, and Saddleback College who for the past two years have be designing and building an energy-efficient, drought-tolerant, affordable home as their entry in this month’s U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon. Team Orange County, one of only 20 teams from around the world chosen to compete in the competition, has produced what it calls Casa del Sol modeled on the California poppy, a flower which opens and closes to make the most efficient use of the sun’s rays. Among other innovations, the home employs innovative residential direct current instead of the less-efficient AC/DC, solar thermal radiant cooling in the ceilings, and a paraffin-lined dryer that holds heat for multiple loads. Just the notion of using solar panels to charge our electric car makes us feel a little better about the future. Watch a video about their project here.

The Solar Decathlon is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. October 8 through 11, and October 15 through 18, at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine. There’s no entry fee, but parking costs $10. The first Solar Decathlon was held in 2002 and has occurred every  other year since. In 2013, the U.S. Department of Energy moved the 10-day competition venue from the National Mall in Washington, D.C., to the Great Park.



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