No, it doesn’t involve skeet shooting while cross-country skiing; in the Solar Decathlon sponsored by the Department of Energy, university students are competing to design the best solar-powered home. The houses are being built on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., where together they will form a temporary solar village. The competing teams hail from 14 schools, each of which received a $5,000 start-up grant from the DOE, and the homes include televisions, stoves, refrigerators, washers, dryers — everything except traditional energy sources. “We didn’t want people to necessarily associate solar-powered with futuristic,” said Amy Schneider, a civil engineering student at the University of Missouri at Rolla. “[The house we built] is really just a typical Missouri home.”

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