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Illinois fan club growing

I thought I would pass along this kind message from a well wisher who has some interesting thoughts on the competition. This was a letter to Solar Nation.


Chris & Solar Nation:

On Thursday I had a chance to walk among the houses on the Mall while I was down in DC from Baltimore for the day. Unfortunately I didn't give myself enough time to go inside any of the structures before I departed by train but I was able
to gather a few impressions in the time I did spend which I'd like to share with you.

1. While I fully support the Solar Decathlon effort(!), which was clearly a popular attraction on the Mall as evidenced by the crowds of visitors I observed, I am also keenly aware of how this event fails to attract or reach the working class of Baltimore City (located only 42+/- miles up I-95 from DC).

2. This failure to connect the working class of Baltimore City (including members of my own family) to the Solar Decathlon highlights a much bigger problem I see wherein there has not been enough tangible, visible evidence to reinforce and support the concept that a "green revolution" is underway. Our need to see many more high-profile projects in highly visible locations is surpassed only by our need to see even more street-scale developments in our everyday environments.

3. Further evidence of a "class gap" in the Solar Decathlon can be observed in how the vast number of the houses have been designed in a contemporary/modern design aesthetic which I can promise you will not appeal to the vast number of Baltimoreans I know including and especially those in my family. Only the entry by the ***Illinois team*** shows any respect for those with a more traditional design aesthetic which I stopped by to praise them for.

4. And my final two statements relate to how NONE of the teams considered the location-specific context of "DC in October" in their designs! 4a. Where is the brick? Afterall, tens of thousands of DC and Baltimore rowhomes are clad in the stuff! 4b. And, what of the seasonally low angle of the DC sun in October? Are any of the current house designs maximizing this angle to full benefit?

Thank you in advance for considering what I've said here today.


Thom Wilson of Baltimore City


Congratulations, Illinois team members, on a great showing so far in the competition! Those of us 'back home' are rooting for you all the way.

As for Thom from Baltimore, it was interesting to read what he had to say. I only hope he takes the time to check out the team Web sites, especially Illinois Gable Home site, where he can find out just how the team approached the idea of harvesting solar energy in D.C. in October. I know from being involved with the last Illinois SD competition that this is one of the primary considerations of the team. In fact, here's what they posted on the Illinois site:

"The solar array is placed at nearly the optimal angle for solar harvest, fills the southern roof space, and provides far more than enough power to balance the building energy."

Keep up the great work, Team Illinois. I, for one, am very proud of you!

Susan McKenna
M.S. 2007, University of Illinois

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