One of the United States’ most exciting alternative-energy events, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon, is about to kick off in Washington DC!  Starting October 9th (and ending the 18th), 20 teams of college and university students, hailing from such diverse corners as Kentucky and Germany, will be competing to design, build and operate their very own solar-powered houses.  The goal is to make them as energy-efficient as possible while still being aesthetically pleasing and practical to live in. In fact, one of our very own at Autonomie Project is down in DC competing himself. Kevin will be representing Boston Architectural College and Tufts University through designing and constructing the Curio House.

The Decathlon is split into three phases: first, the teams put their collective brains together to design their homes using high-tech solutions in unique ways, and then raise the funds and coordinate with contractors to build them.  Next, each team must disassemble their house, transport it to the national Mall in DC and reassemble it.  Finally, the competition begins as each team and home is evalutaed in ten different areas: architecture, market viability, engineering, lighting design, communications, comfort zone, hot water, appliances, home entertainment and net metering (reading how much energy the home consumes over the course of the competition). The juries assessing each area are compromised of scholars and working professionals at the head of their particular field.

This is the fourth Decathlon, the others having occurred previously at intervals of two years.  The contest is always growing, involving more students and universities, and the event brings more than 100,000 people out each time to walk among and interact with the teams and their homes. This is a very special chance to venture into a world that may very well reflect the needs and hopes of a future in crisis. If you have the chance, we highly recommend you take it and go get lost in the solar village!  All of the above information and much more can be found on the event website. We want to send our special thanks to the members of the Curio House and we wish Kevin and the rest the best of luck!

Fenway Park, home of the famed Red Sox, which rests in the middle of bustling Boston is a national and local attraction. The green walls of the park have come to symbolize America’s national pastime. But now the park can boast the green shade is more than symbolic.

Earlier this month, Fenway Park revealed newly installed solar panels. They have installed enough solar panels to heat a third of the park’s hot water. The solar panels were installed by one of the city’s green projects. The city of Boston and energy companies have been funding this initiative, called Solar Boston.

Boston who was rated 3rd on the Popular Science’s America’s 50 Greenest Cities, hopes to increase the city’s overall solar output by 2015. They have set a reachable goal to increase solar energy 50 fold. In 2007, Boston also became one of the Solar America Cities, an initiative to increase the national solar output by the US Department of Energy.

Solar power is a great renewable energy source, but it isn’t the only one the city of Boston is instituting . Beginning this July, NStar, electricity supplier to Boston, is offering customers the option to have half or all of their electricity supply come from wind power. For just $4 (for half) or $7 (for all) extra a month, every household can switch to a renewable energy source. That’s the cost of a lunchtime sandwich!! So, please, if you are local, consider signing up for NStar’s Green Program.

It is inspiring to see Boston, America’s oldest city and one of the largest metropolises in the country taking renewable energy to the mainstream! If you live in Boston or would like to keep updated on the city’s Green projects, check out The Green Blog hosted by the Boston Globe. Hopefully, Boston and other Green cities such as San Francisco and Portland, OR will set a new trend that will take hold over cities and towns across the nation!!

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