solar decathlon 2015

Team Alfred's OFFICIAL BLOG!

This was a multi-faceted collaboration between Alfred State College and Alfred University for the 2015 U.S. Department of Energy's national competition in Irvine, California. Scroll down to the start of the blog to get a sense of what the event was and is.

I myself was originally commissioned as the teams designer. I later became a decathlete to go compete with the team. Since I was going to California I also convinced the school to let me bring along my work to have a solo art show in the teams solar house. (Blog post from Day 7 highlights my involvement.)

Days 1-2


Day 1 — Thursday, Oct. 8th


Running on Fumes!

After a long trip and a crazy night of hectic work for the deadline, we were all able to get into our hotels for a whole four hours of sleep. All of us had to wake up early to make it to the house to finish cleaning and tweaking things; the construction students were finally able to get some sleep and then go to the beach for one day before going back to New York. After a couple hours of cleaning, store trips and setting up internal components we were able to all go to the opening reception with all of the other 14 teams. Originally there was around 20 teams, but several of them had to drop out due to factors such as funding; one such school being Yale University. 



Upon entering the event, one thing stood out in my mind more than others: there was a massive camera crew in charge of documenting and broadcasting the event live (seen in the slideshow above). Even though I was sucking down my second large coffee to try and stay attentive, I realized that all of our hard work was going to pay off one way or another.

Even though I am not an engineer or architect, the event was more interesting than I could have hoped for. I began to realize that this competition is on the larger global scale in humanities fight for cleaner energy. This was greatly due to the wonderful speech by our Secretary of Energy (who is also a theoretical physicist).


After the opening reception we all had some photos taken and went back to our houses to prepare for the public opening at 11am for the hundreds of visitors. 


Avery Sandler giving a lady in-depth info.

Alfred State alumnus and Alfred University Grad student giving some visitors a tour.


West Virginia University's Solar Home


Free food? Sign me up!

Later in the evening I was then scheduled to have dinner at WVU's house; this being the first of two dinners. The decathlon requires teams to both entertain guests with dinner as well as send out couples to other homes. This serves both as a means of meeting people and making connections, but also to test the usability of the home as well as using depleting some of the homes energy. The appetizers for this meal were amazing. All of the dinnerware was made my the ceramics department at WVU exclusively to be used for these dinner parties.



Day 2 — Friday, Oct. 9th


A Hot, Hot Day.

The following day we found out in the morning that it was to be a heat wave.  We first went to the house and did our now normal daily ritual of cleaning our house so it looks amazing for our guests. My morning task was to drive our electric BMW for the commuting competition. This competition makes you drive 25 miles within 2 hours which makes for a fun event that also requires us to charge our car off of our homes solar power. 


Team Alfred's electric BMW

Grabbed food from some vendors and sat in the 104°F sun outside of our house.


Visitors enjoying the shade in front of the teams posters.

After a quick lunch I took a ride to Pier 1 Imports to buy a 9' wide umbrella and stand so that our visitors had a cool place to stand. From helping out the prior day I realized that visitors preferred to wait for a tour under our roof rather than in the direct sunlight where our posters were. Getting this and setting it up was instrumental to the flow of visitors to the home.


Because it was such a hot day (literally getting up to 104°F), we had time to go back and switch hotel rooms and finally go grocery shopping. Food in site and in the city is quite pricey, and because I am not working while I am here I made sure to keep requesting our team's professor to take us as he had funds from Alfred University to buy food for us all to have in our extended-stay hotel rooms.

$900 bill from food alone at Walmart in Irvine, CA


Movie night at University of California, Davis's home — Guardians of the Galaxy with snacks!


At this point I was going to have the third day off (Friday Oct.9th) in which I was going to make plans on renting a car for a day trip to Los Angeles! However Avery, the team captain, called me and said that they are short on people for movie night and they are on their way back to pick me up. Per the rules of the competition, similar to cooking, all teams are required to play a movie in their home with guests as well as send out pairs to other homes. I pushed back my LA trip for this, but it was a fun classy time so no harm done.