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9/21/02 Greetings from Washington D.C., We’re here!

At 12:01 Thursday morning, we started construction. Our spot is about 150 yards in front of the Air and Space Museum, and the Mall was full of trucks, construction lights, people. It was total mayhem, dinosaur-like cranes everywhere. A time-lapse picture would have been unbelievable. We got our house up in 8 hours, not the solar panels yet, but the structure is in place.

It’s a total kick to be here. We look up and we’ve got the Capitol to the east, the Washington Monument to the west. But the humidity is killing us.

The other house are all over the place. Some teams just lowered theirs off the backs of flatbed trucks and that was it, they’re done. Crowder College is not only completely done, they’re installing a hot tub on their deck. Others still have no finishes, no interior paint, nothing inside. How they’re going to do all this in five days, we don’t know.

During the next two days, we’ll be attaching photovoltaic panels on our house, painting trim and going to town on all the interior details. Opening ceremonies are Thursday, and U.S. Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham will be cutting the ribbon.

Matthew Henry and Adam Jackaway


9/25/02 Greetings from the Solar Decathlon

The house is coming down to the final details as construction will technically be finished tomorrow (so they say). The Mall has remained open and the public response has been extremely positive.

We still haven’t figured out the tangled streets of the city. In fact, Adam disappeared today for six hours on a "quick run" to the hardware store. As we write this, perched on a barricade inches from downtown traffic, we are planning our escape to a Chinatown restaurant. Wish us luck.

Chris Kennedy and Ryan Boreman


9/27/02 Let the Contest Begin

The Solar Decathlon has officially begun, with a sendoff from the competition sponsors, government officials and the media. Despite heavy rains and overcast skies Thursday, we welcomed many visitors and our solar system generated enough power to meet all the of the day’s electrical demands. We were especially honored by the presence and support of Colorado’s own Mark Udall.

We have had trendously positive feedback from the press, the volunteers and organizers and the other teams.

One of our primary goals was to present a home constructed from non-traditional, environmentally friendly materials used in a traditional manner. We wanted our home to be warm and inviting, with mass appeal and marketability. The greatest reward is to hear visitor after visitor proclaim, "I would love to live in this house."

Leslie McClure and Jessica Lorentz


9/29/02 Open to the Public

After a final push that kept us working on the house until 5:30 in the morning Saturday, the house is completely finished and open to the public. Pulling an all-nighter on the National Mall was a surreal experience, with glowing solar houses in the foreground and the moonlit Washington Monument and Capitol in the background.

On Saturday, the sun came out for the first time in three days — the perfect introduction to this solar house competition. Public turnout has been tremendous. There were 30-minute lines just to get in our house, with nothing but positive and enthusiastic feedback.

A panel of judges spent 30 minutes touring our home, evaluating its architecture. It is one of 10 contests we will compete in. We can feel the momentum gaining.

Galen Burrell and Reena Patel


10/2/02 We’re in the lead!

Solar Decathlon officials announced today that our house placed first in three contests — Computer Simulation, House Tours, and Website — and that moves us to the top. Other teams are close behind, though, so it looks like it will be an exciting week.

We’re also doing well on energy contests, and driving all over town with the electric car, charged by our house’s solar panels. About 7,000 people visited our wonderful house over the weekend, we estimated, and they all loved it!

Clouds are rolling in this afternoon, but we’re still generating enough electricity to run the house. If it stays cloudy, though, all the solar homes on the National Mall will be put to the test.

Celeste Leidich and Zeke Yewdall


10/3/02 We have entered the Home Stretch!

At this point in the competition, we’ve learned everything there is to learn about the house (and car) and how best to operate them. Last night, we decided to switch our focus to winning. We find ourselves perched happily in first place at the moment, but we have a group of hungry competitors champing at the bit to catch us. The competitive fire is in the air and is a far cry from the atmosphere during the public tours last weekend. We are spending a lot of time looking at energy-use data and spreadsheets for all the teams, trying to find weak and strong points. It is sort of fun trying to decipher everyone’s strategy just by looking at graphs and numbers, like detective work.

Kudos to Chris Kennedy for enduring frequent bouts of highway hypnosis as he meanders around D.C. most of the day to rack up miles (credits) in our electric golf cart — I mean car. Win or lose, one thing is for sure — shoulder to shoulder we will fight, fight, fight!

Michael Wassmer