‘Our house is a very, very fine house’

As I strolled along the National Mall Tuesday during the Energy Department-sponsored Solar Decathlon, I saw 20 student-built houses that stress energy efficiency and sustainable usage.

Photo courtesy of Stefano Paltera/U.S. Deptartment of Energy Solar Decathlon

Photo courtesy of Stefano Paltera/U.S. Deptartment of Energy Solar Decathlon

There was a constant parade of visitors checking out the houses, with dozens in line at any one time, and hundreds over the course of a day.

Allison Kopf, the project manager for Santa Clara University’s entry in the Solar Decathlon — the Catholic college joined up with the architecture school at the California College of the Arts to create “Team California” — said that, even from the outside, it was easy to recognize the geographic origin of the house designs. “You  can look at that house and say, ‘Oh, that’s an Illinois house’ or ‘That’s a Puerto Rico house,'” she told me minutes before a new day of open houses for the public took place Oct. 13.

The California house? Redwood exterior paneling.

Perhaps it was a professional failure on my part, but I did not check out which college in which state designed the house that looked like a silo.

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