Irvine Racks Up Another First: Great Park Chosen as the Next Site for DOE's Solar Home Competition

“We are, in fact, at the Great Park creating a living laboratory for innovation.”—Beth Krom, Irvine’s Mayor Pro Tem

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As I’ve said and written many times before, Irvine is always on the cutting edge of development. This spirit of innovation is in Irvine’s DNA. It goes back to the ranch days and continues today. Some love the results; others hate it. But whatever side of this divide you fall on, it’s the cutting edge. It’s innovation.

Today Irvine is adding another first: The Great Park in Irvine will be the first site outside of Washington D.C. to host the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon. The DOE Solar Decathlon consists of students from schools of higher education, both U.S. and international, competing to build homes that are not only energy efficient but also marketable. In other words, potential buyers like the look of them and are comfortable with the price. This biennial competition was launched in 2002 and has attracted more than 100,000 visitors.

Here is how the DOE describes the event:

“The 20 teams from colleges and universities across the United States and from around the world will now begin a two-year process to build solar-powered, highly energy-efficient homes that combine affordability, consumer appeal and design excellence. Throughout the two-year process, the teams will design, construct and test their homes before reassembling them at the Solar Decathlon 2013 competition site. As part of the Solar Decathlon, teams compete in ten different categories – ranging from best architecture and engineering to energy production for heating and cooling – while gaining invaluable real-world experience in a growing global industry.”—

And here are some of the benefits that local officials expect to reap by hosting the DOE Solar Decathlon:

“We’re looking at this being a really huge thing not just for Irvine, not just for Orange County, not even for the region. We can really showcase California as a hotbed of innovation for renewable energy.”—Tim Shaw, manager of external affairs at the Great Park

“Staging the 2013 Solar Decathlon at the Great Park will focus worldwide attention on the entire solar renewable energy industry in Orange County and throughout California. The event will also greatly stimulate the local economy by bringing in tourism dollars from those attending.”—Mike Elzey, Great Park CEO

One more comment on the benefits of “going green”: Not only does the City of Irvine and the U.S. Department of Energy see benefit in adopting innovations in energy efficiency, so does the U.S. military. As these links show, the U.S. military see it as a way to save money and as a national security issue:


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