Take Action to keep the Solar Decathlon on the National Mall

February 9, 2011

A Message from Paul Mendelsohn
Vice-President AIA Government & Community Relations

As you may have heard, the Department of Energy recently announced that the Solar Decathlon will not be held on the National Mall, as it has since its inception in 2002. This biennial event “challenges 20 collegiate teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive.” It showcases the best in innovation and promotes an integrated approach to solving our nation’s problems. Moving the site would greatly diminish the success of the event due to the diminished visibility, and damage the project’s effectiveness as an education tool for the profession.

Last month, the Department of Energy announced that it was seeking a new location for the 2011 Decathlon, citing the deteriorating condition of the National Mall and a conflict with the Mall restoration plans, more specifically the impact the event has on the turf. This is a confusing rationale because the turf restoration is not scheduled to occur until after the Decathlon was over.

Not only does the National Mall lend its gravitas as a national symbol to the event, but it is also a high-profile, high visibility location – which certainly contributes greatly to the extensive media coverage, high level of public participation and overall impact of the event enjoys. Furthermore, moving the site at this late date in the process will burden the participating college teams with unnecessary challenges and hardships, as they must now account for new site requirements, different geographic coordinates, weather implications, etc. Many do not have the time or money available to make these accommodations to ensure the overall success of their houses.

No official replacement site has been announced, but this is expected any day. Unofficial sources have noted that the National Harbor is being considered as a temporary location for the Decathlon. The National Harbor, located in Maryland, south of Washington, DC, may be a nice venue for other events, but it is incomparable to the National Mall – it does not have the visibility or easy access necessary for such an event.

It is imperative that we keep the Solar Decathlon on the National Mall. Unfortunately there is little time to act. Please contact your Members of Congress TODAY and ask them to increase pressure on Secretary Chu (Department of Energy) and Secretary Salazar (Interior Department , which governs the National Park Service) to reverse this decision and keep the Solar Decathlon where it belongs – on the National Mall.

If you are an AIA Member go to the AIA Advocacy Center to contact your representatives.

Click here to visit http://house.gov or http://senate.gov if you are not an AIA member.


Paul Mendelsohn
Vice-President AIA Government & Community Relations

P.S. If another AIA member forwarded this message to you, please use this link to connect to the AIA Advocacy Center, or v


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