Sac State lands coveted spot in Solar Decathlon

The U.S. Department of Energy announced Thursday that Sacramento State is one of 20 universities from around the world selected to compete in the prestigious Solar Decathlon 2015.

“This places Sac State among the top engineering, design and construction schools in the nation and the world,” says Gareth Figgess, a lecturer in the Department of Construction Management.

Sac State will compete against schools such as Yale University, Clemson University, Stanford University, Vanderbilt University, UC Davis and Universidad Tecnológica de Panamá. Cal Poly San Luis Obispo was the only other California State University campus chosen to compete.

The award-winning Solar Decathlon, held every two years, challenges 20 collegiate student teams to design, build and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient – and nice-looking.

“We will be designing and building a full-scale house – about 1,000 square feet – that will produce as much power as it consumes,” says Figgess.

Sac State’s solar home project will be an innovative, multidisciplinary effort centered in the Department of Construction Management and carried out over the next two years. Already on board is the Interior Design program, which will design the house; Business Administration, which will conduct the market research to determine the home’s target residents; and Communication Studies, which will create a website and blog for the project.

“I am very proud of Gareth for taking on the leadership role in securing this grant,” says Mikael Anderson, chair of Sac State’s Department of Construction Management. “He has formed a dynamic project team consisting of Adam Della Monica at Turner Construction, Dave Huhn at Glumac and myself in writing the proposal.


“We also have formed industry partnerships with SMUD’s Solar Education group and ZETA Design Build Modular Communities. Now that the funding is secured, there will be many more partnerships formed in reaching our goals for this project.”

The 20 Solar Decathlon teams will design, construct and test houses on their respective campuses before reassembling them in fall 2015 at the competition site in Irvine. The student teams will lead free public tours of their homes, showcasing the renewable energy systems and energy-efficient technologies, products and appliances.

The students also will compete in 10 contests, ranging from architecture and engineering to home appliance performance.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman announced the 20 teams Thursday in Irvine. The Solar Decathlon, launched in 2002, supports President Barack Obama’s goal of building a clean-energy economy and saving families and businesses money by saving energy.

For more about the Solar Decathlon, go to For media assistance, contact Sacramento State’s Office of Public Affairs at (916) 278-6156. – Dixie Reid

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