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Students educate the public on building efficiency at DOE’s 2013 Solar Decathlon

University students from around the U.S. traveled to Orange County Great Park in Irvine, Calif. this week to participate in the biennial Solar Decathlon, hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy.

The Solar Decathlon is a competition that promotes energy efficiency by challenging collegiate teams to design, build and operate solar-powered homes. The winning team must produce a house that best offers affordability, attractiveness, comfort and a supply of energy for household appliances, hot water and extra power.

Through the use of energy-efficient technologies – many of them made possible by chemistry – the participating students showcase the benefits of investing in building efficiency. Their structures, which incorporate innovations such as solar panels, insulation, air filtration systems and plastic components, exemplify how enhanced energy efficiency can increase home performance while reducing costs and greenhouse gas emissions.

The Vinyl Institute, which supports continued growth and innovation in plastic and vinyl applications around the country, sponsored the SciArc/Cal Tech home (video above and viewable here ). The installation not only showcases the use of vinyl in a variety of energy efficient and sustainable applications, it also displays one of the most innovative approaches to the use of space and the blending of both the indoor and outdoor environments.

In 2011, the Decathlon provided more than 350,000 house visits to the public over the course of 10 days, including a visit by ACC, which produced a video highlighting some of the on-site innovations.

The Solar Decathlon started Thursday, Oct. 3, will run until Sunday, Oct. 13. It is open to the public free of charge, granting visitors the opportunity to see these energy-saving innovations firsthand.

We can all learn something from the students participating in this year’s competition. Stop by if you can and wish them luck.

For more information about the 2013 Solar Decathlon, visit the website here.

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