A La Solar Style

Who knew there was such thing as a "Solar Decathlon?" Santa Clara University is definitely raising its figurative hand right now. I, on the other hand, was pretty clueless about such matters until... this Tuesday.

Turns out there's this international contest between university teams competing to create the most energy-efficient house using solar energy, and it goes by the name Solar Decathlon because the houses are judged on 10 categories. So now you're in the know too. Voila, you're welcome.

We took a quick jaunt to Santa Clara this week to investigate what the heck this commotion was all about. Conveniently, the students there knew every single detail imaginable about the contest in general and their house specifically, called the "Radiant House." Ooh la la.


The Radiant House is pretty spiffy, and the 25 students working on it are pretty spiffy too. They wear pedometers to track how much energy they're spending -- how appropriate. Except there wasn't a prize for the person who spent the most energy, and no one was very competitive about it. I suggested they change that immediately, spice it up a little.

The people on the team are just plain impressive, first of all because they get to the construction site every summer morning at 7 a.m. It's also a two-year project. And an extracurricular. Those engineers, they really do kill the game. Speaking of winning, Daniel and I played "lets spot the two non-engineers" and finished in about 2 minutes. Done and done.

I asked if the team if had any fun nicknames, to which they responded "Solar." I offered up "Sunny D," but it didn't catch on.

Other fun facts:

  • Structural bamboo is about to take over the architectural/construction world. You heard it here first.
  • If you happen to find yourself in Irvine, California, circa October, and see a bunch of students hammering away on the final touches of building a house instead of studying in a library, don't be alarmed.
  • The bedroom of the Santa Clara house is going to have a wall painted burnt orange. How very SoCal hip.


Obviously there are about 145,627 more neat facts on this topic. I could go on and on, but instead I will leave you with this final question: If the names of Santa Clara house entries in years past have been Ripple, Refract, and now Radiant, what will they name their next house? My bet's on "Revelation."

Contemplate that, along with Global Warming and the other large questions of the universe, while us Best Interns hit the road, Jack. We'll update you on the Midwest and Kanye's hometown STAT.