Photo by Middlebury College
Middlebury's team had a lot to celebrate during the Solar Decathlon competition in Washington, D.C.
Middlebury College’s Solar Decathlon team triumphantly climbed the stage for the second straight day during the final awards ceremony for the Department of Energy’s 2011 Solar Decathlon competition.
After winning the communications category the previous day, Middlebury claimed first place in the coveted market appeal category—a victory that ultimately vaulted them to fourth place in the final standings. They moved past competitors Ohio State and Caltech, and wound up just a few points behind third-place finisher Team New Zealand, from Victoria University in Wellington. The winning team was the University of Maryland, and the runner-up was Purdue University.
“Self-Reliance left the jury very impressed, eclipsing our expectations across the board in livability and marketability,” said Brad Beeson, market appeal juror. “Middlebury College defined its market carefully—a young family of four with a modest income for the region—and demonstrated the fit for that target market with a very compelling video.”
The team's sense of accomplishment grew further when Addison Godine '11, project manager and team founder, received the Best Decathlete Award at Saturday's ceremony. Godine was recognized for his active participation in the measured contests, in-depth understanding of day-to-day team standings, and overall embodiment of the innovative spirit of the decathlon.
The 10-day competition ended much the way it began—in a chilling wind, under a gunmetal gray sky and clouds that spit rain all day. Indeed, Washington, which hosts the biennial Solar Decathlon, provided little good news, weather-wise, for the 19 teams struggling to remain “net-zero”—to produce as much electricity through their photovoltaic arrays as they consumed in a variety of daily tasks. Self-Reliance, Middlebury’s “new New England farmhouse,” is engineered to perform net-zero on an annual basis, but with just three sunny days in D.C., the team wound up with an eight-kilowatt-hour deficit, costing them 17 precious points.
“Two more hours of Sun and it would have been second place,” said team member Carson Cornbrooks ’11.