Posted by: Tom Ross | September 17, 2013

The Biggest Loser (A Win For Everyone)

[Click on the title above to view on the CTE Central Blog website.]

5000 pounds would be ideal.

That isn’t the amount of sugar you eat in a lifetime (that’s 130 pounds a year for Americans or over 10,000 pounds). 5000 pounds is the ideal maximum amount of carbon (in the form of carbon dioxide) your life should add to the Earth’s atmosphere. That’s during your whole life, a little over 2 metric tons, according to the Architectural League of NY.

Current estimates put the American lifetime contribution of carbon to the atmosphere at 44,000 pounds. (It’s no wonder, what with all the sugar you’re consuming.)

NASA finds that human activities add a worldwide average of almost 1.4 metric tons of carbon per person per year to the atmosphereThat’s over 170,000 pounds in a lifetime (a metric ton being 2205 pounds). A far cry from a 5000 pound life.

One part of the solution to the problem of too much human-generated carbon dioxide in the atmosphere—which, as we all know, causes greenhouse warming—is to switch from carbon-based fuels to solar energy. And solarity begins at home.

The State of California is seeking to make Net-Zero Energy homes mandatory for all new home construction by 2020. New York, among other states, is wooing designers to build green as well.


On that note, the U.S. Department of Energy is sponsoring an international competition to create moderately priced, solar-powered, green homes: It’s called the SOLAR DECATHLON.

The challenge is for “collegiate teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive. The winner of the competition is the team that best blends affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency.”

The Decathlon takes place over two weekends next month at Orange County Great Park (OCGP), Irvine, CA.  Week One is October 3-6 and Week Two is October 10-13.  It includes the XPO, an energy exposition that features “visionary and innovative companies, products and educational opportunities.”

The university-led national and international teams have designed and built the competition’s solar-powered houses. To see the 20 teams competing in Solar Decathlon 2013 (and more about the XPO) go to the Decathlon Fact Sheet.

Self-guided tours of the Green Homes begin on October 12 at OCGP (check the site for their hours of operation).  And check out these impressive examples of solar home entries.

AustrianSolarHomeTeam Austria Solar Home 2013

“The competition trains students to become pioneers of clean energy technologies that can save consumers money on their energy bills, increase the comfort of their home, and ensure the United States continues to lead the world with the clean energy workforce of tomorrow,” says Richard King, Director of the event.

The issues are not only environmental sustainability and preparing students for jobs in green technology but saving the planet. One pound at a time.

See you at the Solar Decathlon.

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