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After exploding with indignation at being kicked off the Mall, 19 entrants in this year’s Solar Decathlon made it to West Potomac Park anyway, and were just putting the final touches on their high-tech houses when press stopped by this afternoon. They range from the totally traditional to the barely recognizable, but all will be judged on the same 10 criteria, including affordability, market appeal, engineering, communications, and architecture. And make no mistake, this is serious business for the teams—-many have gotten big-time corporate sponsorships, and have aggressive public relations strategies, including press outreach, VIP receptions, and legions of chipper tour guides.
District residents will want to make sure to stop by the Empowerhouse, which was designed in conjunction with the city and Habitat for Humanity for a single mother in Deanwood, and will be transported there after the competition finishes. Rather than whiz-bang technology, the team focused on simplicity, with a model that could be easily replicated using off-the-shelf components for about $250,000. Design-y furniture presumably not included.
Anyhow, I made a slideshow with most of the houses (the ones I missed aren’t necessarily less cool) and their websites, which will tell you much more about them. But the most fun thing is checking them out in person, so get thee to West Potomac Park as soon as Friday and as late as October 2.