Team Orange County Showcases Energy-Efficient Home at Solar Decathlon

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Casa del Sol, the energy-efficient home designed by Saddleback College and other “Team Orange County” students, is currently on display at the United States Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine. The nine-day collegiate competition, which opened yesterday morning, challenges teams from around the world to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective and attractive to consumers.

The opening ceremony was led by Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz. Additional speakers were Christina Shea, Irvine City Councilwoman; Gaddi Vasquez, Senior Vice President, Government Affairs, Edison International; Serge Goldenberg, Senior Vice President, Solar Business, Schneider Electric; and Puon Penn, Executive Vice President, Head of Technology and Clean Tech Commercial Banking, Wells Fargo. Representing the South Orange County Community College District Board of Trustees was Dr. James R. Wright, and Saddleback College President Tod A. Burnett and Irvine Valley College President Glenn R. Roquemore were in attendance with Daniele Stroopa, Chancellor of Chapman University, and Gregory Washington, Dean of the UC Irvine Henry Samueli School of Engineering.

Casa del Sol is a collaboration of Team Orange County, which consists of a core group of 20 students from Saddleback College, who took the lead on architecture and interior design; Irvine Valley College, who focused on construction technology; UC Irvine, who oversaw engineering and project management, and Chapman University, who led marketing and communications efforts.

Dr. Burnett stated, “I am incredibly proud of the hard work and dedication of our students, who produced a truly innovative home enhanced by phenomenal design. Saddleback College is committed to providing a first-rate Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) curriculum, which are enriched by our ability to compete in high-level activities like the Solar Decathlon.”

Blake Stephens, professor of architecture, stated, “I am encouraged by the intelligence and hard-working attitude of the students who have dedicated their efforts to Team Orange County and the solar decathlon.”

While showcasing creative and sustainable home designs, the Solar Decathlon helps build a workforce to address the need to reduce carbon pollution that causes climate change. The competition combines classroom instruction with hands-on experience to teach college students the STEM concepts used to build their Solar Decathlon houses. Since the biennial competition began in 2002, many former participants have pursued careers in clean energy and sustainable housing.

The competing teams were selected two years ago in a competitive selection process and their projects represent a diverse range of design, building technologies, and geographic locations, climates and regions. They are constructed to target a broad range of housing markets, including empty nesters, multi-generational, and single family.

In addition to Team Orange, the following collegiate teams are competing in the Solar Decathlon 2015:

California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo
California State University, Sacramento
Clemson University
Crowder College and Drury University
Missouri University of Science and Technology
New York City College of Technology
Team NY Alfred (State University of New York at Alfred College of Technology and Alfred University)
Stevens Institute of Technology
Texas/Germany (The University of Texas at Austin and Technische Universitaet Muenchen)
State University of New York, Buffalo
West Virginia/Rome (West Virginia University and University of Roma Tor Vergata)
Mass/Central America (Western New England University, Universidad Tecnologica de Panama, and Universidad Tecnologica Centroamericana)

Over the next nine days, the teams will compete in 10 contests that focus on house performance, livability, and affordability. To test the livability and efficiency of the houses, the teams will perform a variety of everyday tasks, including cooking, laundry, and washing dishes. The winner of the overall competition will have demonstrated the best blend of affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence while maintaining optimal energy production and maximum efficiency.

Team houses will be open to the public and free of charge October 8-11 and October 15-18 from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm. The overall winner will be announced on October 17 at 9:45 am. A $10 fee for public parking will be charged at the Orange County Great Park during the event.

For more information and to view photos of the event, visit the President’s Gaucho Gazette Blog, The Team Orange County Website, and the Solar Decathlon Website.
Located in Mission Viejo, Saddleback College provides quality higher education and training to the greater south Orange County community. Having served more than 500,000 students since 1968, Saddleback College offers more than 300 degree and certificate programs to help students reach their personal, career, and educational goals. For more information, please visit

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