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Steve Chiotakis: By the end of this week, we’re going to know who won the Solar Decathlon. The Department of Energy gave 20 teams of college students $100,000 each in seed money. Their mission? Build solar houses on the National Mall in Washington D.C. It is a competition that could charge up some green envy, as Marketplace’s Nancy Marshall Genzer reports.
Nancy Marshall Genzer: This is a lot of work just for bragging rights. The competitors had to build a solar house, then re-assemble it in Washington. The DOE judges the houses on things like energy efficiency and engineering. The winner gets a moment in the… sun, but little else.
ROQUE SANCHEZ: We would love that.
Roque Sanchez is on Rice University’s team. They made their standard-row house with materials from Home Depot and Ikea. Sanchez says bragging rights would be priceless.
SANCHEZ: And if we can get that sort of attention towards affordable solar housing, that would be amazing.
Sanchez plans to give the house to a nonprofit, but bragging rights could land him financing to build more.
Richard King runs the contest for the Energy Department. He says the free publicity will help the teams with future projects.
RICHARD KING: Some of the teams are very innovative and they patent certain things.
A team from California patented a certain type of bamboo beam. If they win, they can say their bamboo put them over the top.
In Washington, I’m Nancy Marshall Genzer for Marketplace.
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