Department of Energy Solar Decathlon
LIGHTEN UP: In Southern California, few things are more plentiful than sunshine. It can't be bottled, manufactured, or otherwise shipped away, so you have to be here to partake. It can, however, be harnessed, making this the perfect place to host the U.S. Department of Energy's 2013 Solar Decathlon, running Oct. 3-13 in Irvine.
FUN IN THE SUN: Since 2002, the Department of Energy has hosted this biannual competition amongst college engineering students to design, build, and operate solar-driven homes that are attractive, comfortable, and affordable. This year, various teams from the U.S. and Europe are presenting their versions of eco-friendly abodes throughout Irvine's Great Park. At the end of the week, the teams are judged and awarded based on their performance in ten categories. The homes, which often take years to complete, are then either transported back to schools for research or sold to interested parties.
RAYS FOR DAYS: The competition is free to visitors and open to all who want to learn more about solar technology and ways to save energy, or are just interested in touring homes of the future. Public hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Oct. 3 and Oct. 10. To learn more about the competition or to see photos of the setup in progress, check out their website.