The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon is a collegiate solar competition that began in 2002 and held biennially since 2005. This year, the Solar Decathlon will take place in Irvine, California, where college teams from around the country are challenged to design, build and operate solar-powered houses. The competition started as a way to educate the public and students about the environmental and economic benefits that are found in clean-energy solutions. This year, in order to earn higher marks, each team is encouraged to construct a home that costs less than $250,000, while also making sure it is energy-efficient, excellently designed and has consumer appeal. One of the competing teams is comprised of four southern California schools: Saddleback College, Irvine Valley College, Chapman University and the University of California, Irvine. Their team consists of a 100 students from the schools, and are the only colleges competing from the southern region of the state.  Their solar-home, called Casa del Sol, is designed to open to let in light during the day, while closing at night to retain a comfortable living temperature efficiently, according to Environment 360. It is also designed with a rainwater collection system to utilize in case of natural disasters like an earthquake. "Inspired by California state flower the golden poppy, our home – Casa del Sol – embraces four design principles: it draws inspiration from the diurnal golden poppy; it uses innovative technology to maximize energy efficiency; it is targeted to a Southern California market; and it built on a drought-resistant infrastructure," the team's project website says. The competition will run for eight days over two weekends, from Oct 8 through 18.  If you are interested in learning more about residential solar panels, contact SolarMax Technology today.

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