The Catholic University of America

Oct. 14, 2013

First-Ever D.C. College Team Places Seventh at the Solar Decathlon

D.C. students’ sustainable house now prepares for its new military veteran occupant on the grounds of nonprofit Wounded Warrior Homes

OCT. 14, 2013 (IRVINE, CALIF.) – After two years of design and building, two weeks of completing daily contests and leading tours for more than 15,000 visitors, Team Capitol DC, the first-ever Washington, D.C., team to compete in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon, placed in the top five universities for six of the 10 total contests in the elite international competition. The sustainable home-building competition took place in Irvine, Calif., from Oct. 3-13.

The team, which comprised more than 100 students from The Catholic University of America, the George Washington University and American University, placed competitively in a field of 19 international contenders that included Stanford University, University of Southern California and elite international schools. The final results of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon were announced on Oct. 12.

The full competition included 10 measured and juried contests that were judged over a two-week period in Southern California. Out of the 10 contests, Team Capitol DC finished in the top five in the following categories: Communication, Energy Balance, Home Entertainment, Appliances, Comfort Zone, and Hot Water. Team Capitol DC finished in seventh place in the overall competition for its concept home, HARVEST HOME.

“This is our harvest. It's time to reap what we've sown. It's time to celebrate. It's been an awesome two weeks, and an awesome two years,” said Claire Ainsworth, the team’s student project manager and spokesperson. “We’re most proud of creating a house and donating it to a wounded military veteran, which transformed our project from a showcase into a real home.”

Unlike many homes created for the competition, Team Capitol DC’s HARVEST HOME will be occupied by a specific client, a U.S. military veteran recuperating from recent combat. The house, which has been donated to the nonprofit Wounded Warrior Homes, now begins its short journey from Irvine to nearby San Diego, Calif., where it will be used as a rehabilitation home for military veterans recuperating from physical and mental trauma.

“Delivering a net-zero home 3,000 miles across the country and re-assembling it in eight days was an accomplishment enough for Team Capitol DC,” said Bill Jelen, faculty team leader for Team Capitol DC.

“However, over the past 10 days of this competition, I have been really amazed by the focus and precision with which our students have executed the contests and their knowledge and passion for sharing the novel ideas within their Harvest Home with thousands of visitors. It is great to finish well in the competition, but our lasting victory is delivering this home to Wounded Warrior Homes in San Diego for a veteran in need.”

For more information about Team Capitol DC and HARVEST HOME, see For photos of the home and competition, visit: For more information about the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon, see



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