Team Hawai'i to compete in U.S. Department of Energy's 2011 Solar Decathlon

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Posted: Apr 21, 2010

Exterior view of conceptual design
Exterior view of conceptual design
The U.S. Department of Energy has announced that Team Hawai‘i, made up of representatives from UH Mānoa and Honolulu Community College, is one of 20 teams selected to compete in the 2011 Solar Decathlon. The design-build competition will take place on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., in Fall 2011.   
The competition challenges teams of college and university students from across the nation and the world to create and operate solar-powered houses that are affordable, energy-efficient, and attractive.         

The Team Hawai‘i entry will include advancements in composite material, building-integrated concentrated photovoltaics, building-integrated radiant heating and cooling systems, and novel affordable home design for tropical climates like Hawai‘i.  The team is led by faculty from the UH Mānoa School of Architecture, including Associate Professor David Rockwood and Assistant Professor Hyoung-June Park; faculty and staff from the UH Mānoa College of Engineering, including Assistant Professor David Garmire (Electrical Engineering), Associate Professor Weilin Qu (Mechanical Engineering) and Justin Akagi (Dean’s Office); colleagues from Honolulu Community College, including Dean Mark Silliman and Noel “Red” Griffiths-Seewerker; and industry professionals, such as William Paluch of Eight Inc. and a School of Architecture lecturer.
The first Solar Decathlon was held in 2002. The competition has since occurred biennially in 2005, 2007, and 2009, with the next event to take place in Fall 2011.  Free and open to the public, visitors can tour the houses on the National Mall, and learn how energy-saving features can help them save money and reduce their carbon footprint.  In 2009, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon provided 307,502 house visits to the public over 10 days.

Applications for the 2011 competition went through a rigorous evaluation process by panels of engineers, scientists, experts from the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and professionals from the American Institute of Architects, National Association of Home Builders, the U.S. Green Building Council, building industry media, and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers.  Teams had to demonstrate the viability, efficiency, and innovation of their designs, as well as the ability to raise funds and assemble a team that would successfully complete the project.  

Team Hawai‘i now has 18 months to recruit the best and brightest students, manage the project across multiple departments, perform cutting-edge research, and construct a solar-powered house to compete in Washington, D.C., in Fall 2011.  The University of Hawai`i will receive $100,000 from the Department of Energy to help defray expenses of building and transporting the house.
Donations of professional expertise, materials, and funds are being sought. Anyone interested in donating or being involved in the project is asked to contact Associate Professor David Rockwood at the School of Architecture, 2410 Campus Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, via email sent to, or by calling him at (808) 956-8430. For more information about the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon, visit