Steve Zylius / UC Irvine U.S. Deputy Energy Secretary Daniel Poneman, talks to students, faculty and fans of Solar Decathlon 2015 "Team Orange." Download image

UC Irvine to lead “Team Orange” at Solar Decathlon 2015

Deputy Energy Secretary announces contestants, decathlon site in campus visit

Irvine, Calif., Feb.13, 2014 – UC Irvine and three fellow Orange County campuses will compete in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon 2015, the international student competition to design and build the best solar-powered home. Chapman University, Irvine Valley College and Saddleback College will join UC Irvine as “Team Orange” to create a residence that reflects the traits of the drought-resistant, sun-loving California poppy.

“I’m thrilled that Team Orange has been selected to compete in this world-class event,” said Gregory Washington, dean of UC Irvine’s Samueli School of Engineering, who will lead the effort. His research specialty is “smart” materials that harvest energy. “We and our partners will show California and the nation that our campuses and Orange County lead the way on innovative, affordable solar power and other clean energy advances. The home team can definitely win.”

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman today visited UC Irvine to announce the 20 teams who will compete in Solar Decathlon 2015, which will be held at the Orange County Great Park. Teams, from colleges and universities across the country and around the world, will now begin the nearly two-year process of building solar-powered houses that are affordable, innovative and highly energy-efficient.

“As President Obama made clear in the State of the Union address, we need an all-of-the-above energy strategy that creates a safer and more sustainable planet, while ensuring American students and workers have the skills they need for the challenging jobs of today and tomorrow,” Poneman said. “The Solar Decathlon provides the next generation of America’s architects, engineers and entrepreneurs with the real-world experience and training they need to strengthen U.S. innovation and support new, clean sources of energy.”

Students from all four campuses whooped and cheered at the announcement.

“It’s a dream come true, really, to be picked,” said Alex McDonald, 29, a UC Irvine mechanical engineering and urban planning student who spent long hours on the proposal.

Top officials at the partnering Orange County campuses praised the news.

“Given UC Irvine’s tremendous research scope in new energy technologies and its national leadership in sustainability and green technologies, this is a singular opportunity to leverage our strengths and those of our community partners,” said Howard Gillman, UC Irvine’s provost and executive vice chancellor.  “The Solar Decathlon 2015 will showcase the best of Southern California’s talents in this important field.”

Chapman University President Jim Doti said, “Being selected as one of only 20 teams in this international competition is a tremendous achievement. Chapman is proud to be a partner in Team Orange in the Solar Decathlon, which will bring our great universities together in a quest that can potentially benefit others far beyond our campuses.”

Irvine Valley College President Glenn Roquemore said, “The students, faculty, and staff of IVC are proud, ready and eager to participate in the Solar Decathlon with our team partners. It’s a great opportunity for our alternative energy, engineering, business, environmental and design programs to participate in this wonderful demonstration project that will no doubt be a profound and memorable experience for us all.”

“It is a true honor that Team Orange has been selected to compete in the Solar Decathlon, and I look forward to working with our colleagues to demonstrate the remarkable creativity and talent of our students and faculty,” said Tod Burnett, president of Saddleback College.

Entrants will design, construct and test their houses before reassembling them at the competition site in Irvine. As part of the Solar Decathlon, student teams compete in 10 different contests ranging from architecture and engineering to home appliance performance. They also provide free tours of the homes, showcasing the renewable energy systems and efficient technologies, products and appliances that save money and electricity. The contest highlights a diverse range of design approaches and building technologies in shelters aimed at diverse markets, climates and regions, including urban, suburban and rural settings.

About the University of California, Irvine: Located in coastal Orange County, near a thriving employment hub in one of the nation’s safest cities, UC Irvine was founded in 1965. One of only 62 members of the Association of American Universities, it’s ranked first among U.S. universities under 50 years old by the London-based Times Higher Education. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Michael Drake since 2005, UC Irvine has more than 28,000 students and offers 192 degree programs. It’s Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $4.3 billion annually to the local economy.

Media access: UC Irvine maintains an online directory of faculty available as experts to the media at today.uci.edu/experts. Radio programs/stations may, for a fee, use an on-campus ISDN line to interview UC Irvine faculty and experts, subject to availability and university approval. For more UC Irvine news, visit news.uci.edu. Additional resources for journalists may be found at communications.uci.edu/for-journalists.

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