Yesterday, DCist passed along the news that the Solar Decathlon—the competitive annual event showcasing innovations in solar technology—was looking for another site this year, since the Department of Energy and National Park Service had decided that it would negatively impact the long-term health of the National Mall, which has hosted the event in the four times it has taken place since 2002. Competitors, needless to say, are not happy. And who would be? There are few more exciting staging grounds for something you’ve put as much time into as building a ridiculously cool zero-energy house.
It’s certainly possible, of course, that the beleaguered Mall does deserve a rest. As such, I wondered whether the National Park Service would be issuing fewer permits overall this year, or if the Decathlon would be the only thing canceled. The only source for this information is the always-cheery NPS spokesman Bill Line. Asked directly, he responded:
The National Park Service (NPS) applauds the Department of Energy (DOE) for recognizing the larger goal of sustainability, but also for DOE’s recognition of the need for sustainability on the National Mall. The NPS also applauds the recent events this past summer and fall where event sponsors encouraged attendees to clean up after themselves. The NPS will work with all Special Events sponsors—as differentiated and distinguished from Free Speech/1st Amendment/Right to Demonstrate against or for government policy—to ensure all events have less impact on the National Mall so that all Americans and international visitors who come to the National Mall can enjoy the National Mall. The NPS is asking all permit applicants’ help with sustainability and to help maintain the National Mall in a manner so that all Americans and international visitors have access to a National Mall that is welcoming to all. One of the goals of the National Mall Plan is to make the National Mall a great civic space so that all Americans and all international visitors can take in, enjoy and feel a sense of pride in the National Mall.
So there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. The Park Service applauds the Decathlon’s relocation, and has no comment on whether or not more events will be moved to preserve the grass.