Archive for February, 2011

A New Home for the Solar Decathlon 2011

The new site for the solar decathlon was announced today.  You can read the original press release here,  http://www.solardecathlon.gov/blog/archives/731.  It was previously rumored to be moving way off the national mall south of the district and I for one, am glad that didn’t happen.  But here are a few questions that the new site bring to mind.

Firstly, the new site, West Potomac Park, is on the splot of land between the FDR Memorial/Tidal basin and the Potomac River. There are ball fields there now that get a little bit of use, and usually a great place to snag a parking spot and walk into the monuments (Lincoln, Jefferson, and FDR).  I am familiar with this part of the tourist areas as it is easy access if you know the way.  It is a beautiful area with the river to one side and the tidal basin (through the cherry trees) to the other.  There is little out there in the way of services: restrooms, food vendors, benches, etc….

Here is a sunset picture from the Jefferson end of the field that I shot last year.  Not much out there, a few trash cans and baseball backstops.  Which brings me to my first concern, there is not much out there.  Tour buses drop off loads of kids and tourists to view the Jefferson Monument just behind me (and over the bridge) in this shot.  But no easy Metro access, closest metro is about 1 1/4 mile to the Smithsonian station. Logistics will be harder to work through.

The biggest concern I have looking at the map is  http://www.solardecathlon.gov/pdfs/2011_map.pdf provided in the press release mentioned above.  They have taken the sites and rotated them 45%.  I would think that this deep into the competition, changing the orientation would be a big issue.  I would love to hear from someone involved with the teams on this as I hope that I am wrong.  Perhaps it will separate the good designs from the really great ones that are flexible enough to be reoriented.

I wish the teams good luck and hope to see great things at this year’s event.

Green Schools Challenge

USGBC SWVA (US Green Building Council Southwest Virginia chapter) is hosting a green schools challenge.  The momentum has been building since the kick off last fall.  We have schools

throughout the region paired with mentors in the community all taking part in a living sustainable science fair.  As details begin to come in it is exciting to see and hear about the great sustainable work beginning done by our local students.  From the beginning USGBC recognized that instilling sustainable habits in children did two things: bubbled up to the parents and trickled down to the next generation of community leaders.  This is a win win strategy that will have long-term beneficial effects.

Just think about recycling.  Twelve years ago (1999) it wasn’t what I would call a common practice, at least not around here.  Those first graders are graduating now and just imagine where we will be in the next twelve or even twenty-four years as the next generations of little recyclers graduate.  If you don’t think that is a big deal, just ask communities like Lexington, Va.  Their landfill is about to close.

So keep your eye on our website http://greenvirginiaschools.org/ for all the latest updates across the great state of Virginia.