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A Break from Learning to Learn

October 19, 2009

Props to the group in the Department of Energy who thought of the idea of the Solar Decathlon and seeing it through to a reality-

During our school’s fall break, a group of eager diverse students left Knoxville after a week of tough reviews, papers and projects to attend the 2009 Solar Decathlon. I must say that through layers of cold rain and immense numbers of people it was indeed a sight to see.

Never have I seen people, not related to the design profession, get so excited about sustainable design and discovering new ways to live their lives for the betterment of society and future generations. It truly does put a smile on my face, and how amusing it was to see people ask questions about elements in their lives that one usually never thinks about; i.e. what kind of r-value a roof has or how the solar water heating system works. I thought architects, designers and engineers contemplated these aspects.

I can say that in general the whole UT Zero team and I thought the Solar Decathlon and trip was a success. Never can be taken away the amount I learned on this trip nor the new immense desire to further look into these new systems and creatively incorporate them into the rest of my life.

On a less of a general note, some of the entries were so sexy. Virginia Tech, Minnesota, California, and Germany ranked in my top favorites. Virginia Tech’s ideas about compartmentalization I felt set the standard for the rest of the houses. The layout of the Minnesota and California submissions felt more like a home than the rest, and I feel that is such an important aspect for this competition… can you see yourself living and feeling comfortable there! And Germany had the great idea to optimize space by introducing level changes. These are all aspects we should look into for our home.

And I feel that a home is something that we should strive for. In the case of the Spain submission, the ideas of home were lost and replaced by engineered patents. However, it would be a great home in outer-space on lets say the moon.

Therefore, when moving on… I feel that when making these decisions to advance from this Solar Decathlon, making sure that we are innovative with our design and with the elements that make up that final submission, we cannot forget that all in all we are making a piece of architecture that someone can essentially call a home.

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