UC Irvine to lead “Team Orange” at Solar Decathlon 2015

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel PonemanDeputy Energy Secretary announces contestants, decathlon site in campus visit

UC Irvine and three fellow Orange County campuses will compete in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon 2015, the international student competition to design and build the best solar-powered home. Chapman University, Irvine Valley College and Saddleback College will join UC Irvine as “Team Orange” to create a residence that reflects the traits of the drought-resistant, sun-loving California poppy.

“I’m thrilled that Team Orange has been selected to compete in this world-class event,” said Gregory Washington, dean of UC Irvine’s Samueli School of Engineering, who will lead the effort. His research specialty is “smart” materials that harvest energy. “We and our partners will show California and the nation that our campuses and Orange County lead the way on innovative, affordable solar power and other clean energy advances. The home team can definitely win.”

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman will visit UC Irvine today to announce the 20 teams selected to compete in Solar Decathlon 2015, which will be held at the Orange County Great Park. (The event will be live streamed at www.energy.gov/live.) Teams, from colleges and universities across the country and around the world, will now begin the nearly two-year process of building solar-powered houses that are affordable, innovative and highly energy-efficient.

“As President Obama made clear in the State of the Union address, we need an all-of-the-above energy strategy that creates a safer and more sustainable planet, while ensuring American students and workers have the skills they need for the challenging jobs of today and tomorrow,” Poneman said. “The Solar Decathlon provides the next generation of America’s architects, engineers and entrepreneurs with the real-world experience and training they need to strengthen U.S. innovation and support new, clean sources of energy.”

Top officials at the partnering Orange County campuses praised the news.

“Given UC Irvine’s tremendous research scope in new energy technologies and its national leadership in sustainability and green technologies, this is a singular opportunity to leverage our strengths and those of our community partners,” said Howard Gillman, UC Irvine’s provost and executive vice chancellor.  “The Solar Decathlon 2015 will showcase the best of Southern California’s talents in this important field.”

Chapman University President Jim Doti said, “Being selected as one of only 20 teams in this international competition is a tremendous achievement. Chapman is proud to be a partner in Team Orange in the Solar Decathlon, which will bring our great universities together in a quest that can potentially benefit others far beyond our campuses.”

Irvine Valley College President Glenn Roquemore said, “The students, faculty, and staff of IVC are proud, ready and eager to participate in the Solar Decathlon with our team partners. It’s a great opportunity for our alternative energy, engineering, business, environmental and design programs to participate in this wonderful demonstration project that will no doubt be a profound and memorable experience for us all.”

“It is a true honor that Team Orange has been selected to compete in the Solar Decathlon, and I look forward to working with our colleagues to demonstrate the remarkable creativity and talent of our students and faculty,” said Tod Burnett, president of Saddleback College.

Entrants will design, construct and test their houses before reassembling them at the competition site in Irvine. As part of the Solar Decathlon, student teams compete in 10 different contests ranging from architecture and engineering to home appliance performance. They also provide free tours of the homes, showcasing the renewable energy systems and efficient technologies, products and appliances that save money and electricity. The contest highlights a diverse range of design approaches and building technologies in shelters aimed at diverse markets, climates and regions, including urban, suburban and rural settings.