October 12, 2007

The Green Revolution

2005 First place winner - University of Colorado, Denver and Boulder

You may have heard that Al Gore won the Nobel Prize for Peace. I was very surprised given that he’s such a polarizing individual. Though I haven’t seen the movie An Inconvenient Truth, I am totally onboard with his message of global warming.

I feel like people react defensively about the subject because they are scared to change their habits. Call me a dork, but I imagine that this green revolution that is taking place, will be a lot of fun. I’m a little biased because I have lived in several foreign countries, where being green was a requirement.

Take Canada, for example, where large households pride themselves on having just one small trash bag to throw out by the end of the day (the rest of the garbage goes into recycling or composting). When I lived in my tiny apartment in Japan, we have 4 or 5 trash containers to sort a variety of things from plastic, to glass, to food waste, etc.

But that’s not the fun part. I think the green revolution will challenge people, their habits, and their environment. In Washington D.C. for example, the Solar Decathlon will quick off a full week of wonders. If you love home-design TV shows, wait 'till you get a load of this.

According to the website:

The Solar Decathlon is a competition in which 20 teams of college and university students compete to design, build, and operate the most attractive, effective, and energy-efficient solar-powered house. The Solar Decathlon is also an event to which the public is invited to observe the powerful combination of solar energy, energy efficiency, and the best in home design.

The event takes place on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., October 12 - 20. The team houses are open for touring everyday, except Wednesday, October 17, when they will close for competition purposes. An overall winner is announced on Friday, October 19 at 2 p.m. See the
schedule for more information.

Teams of college students design a solar house, knowing from the outset that it must be powered entirely by the sun. In a quest to stretch every last watt of electricity that's generated by the solar panels on their roofs, the students absorb the lesson that
energy is a precious commodity. They strive to innovate, using high-tech materials and design elements in ingenious ways. Along the way, the students learn how to raise funds and communicate about team activities. They collect supplies and talk to contractors. They build their solar houses, learning as they go.

And you should see these houses! They’re modern, have gardens growing on the walls, large windows and sunroofs, collect water in garden cisterns, and make imaginative and efficient use of space. Some teams are so organized that they actually market their houses to potential buyers.

It’s futuristic! It’s entertaining! It’s science fiction!