Solar house on the moveThe first of several sections of the Solar NEST home leaves for the competition. (Sacramento State/Steve McKay)

Sacramento State’s Team Solar NEST and its beautiful Reflect Home are headed to the U.S. Department of Energy’s global Solar Decathlon 2015. (Follow the competition and standings.) 

To prepare the two-bedroom, one-bath home for transport, professional crews broke it down into sections. The five main house modules, along with the loft, carport, and deck pieces, were loaded on Friday, Sept. 25, onto seven flatbed trucks for the 400-mile trip to Irvine’s Orange County Great Park.

Once there, Team Solar NEST has eight 20-hour days to reassemble and complete the house before the Solar Decathlon gets underway Oct. 8. The winner will be announced Oct. 17.

In February 2014, the DOE chose 20 universities from 140 applicants for the Solar Decathlon 2015. Six schools, including Yale and Stanford, have dropped out of the demanding competition. The 14 remaining teams, including Sacramento State’s, have followed through on the DOE’s challenge to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and appealing to home-buyers in their region.

The Reflect Home was constructed on campus by Sacramento State students, with the help of their faculty mentors and supporters in the local building industry.

“It’s been a magical learning place for our students,” says Lorenzo Smith, dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science.

“This has been a ‘wow’ project,” says Mikael Anderson, professor and chair of the Department of Construction Management, which has taken the lead for Sac State in the competition. “It’s a beautiful house, something everyone wants to live in.”

During the Solar Decathlon, teams will face challenges to test the affordability, energy efficiency, design, and market appeal of their home. Each will host a dinner party, have the “neighbors” over to watch TV on their home theater system, do laundry, run the dishwasher, and drive their electric car around town.

Throughout the competition, teams must use no more energy than their net-zero house can produce. As many as 70,000 people are expected to tour the 14 homes during the competition.

Sac State’s Reflect Home will be brought back to campus, rebuilt and used as a learning lab for students and the public. – Dixie Reid 

In the media: "Sacramento State ready to play underdog spoiler in prestigious solar power competition," CBS 13