The Solar Decathlon begins today. Out on the Mall, 20 teams are competing to design and build the most energy-efficient, climate-friendly and relatively attractive home--all based on solar energy (the houses are already designed and built, they're just being reassembled on the Mall). I am particularly interested in seeing if or how they used economical materials to collect solar energy, and reduce reliance on traditional solar cells, which, while getting cheaper, more efficient and more enviro-friendly, still require increasingly scarce resources and are not so attractive. My thinking in this direction has likely been influenced in part because of the Cooper-Hewitt design exhibition focused on useful, innovative, cost-effective design for people in developing countries, and of course the one laptop per child initiative.
In other enviro news, congratulations are in order for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Al Gore for their receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize. Of course, Al Gore's success has fueled speculation about a possible White House run, and this latest award has done little to dissuade speculation. If you're feeling fancy, click over to Draft Gore and sign the petition!