The Department of Energy and the National Park Service has given the boot to the Solar Decathlon, the biannual competition that brings teams from around the world to the National Mall to showcase their zero energy homes.
According to several reports, this all comes down to the damage done to the mall when it plays host to large events. The National Mall, and its almost constantly dilapidated condition, has been the subject of attention since Jon Stewart's "Rally to Restore Sanity" called for donations to be made for restoring the mall. Yet, this effort must not have made too much progress as now it appears the Solar Decathlon has to find a new home.
The Department of Energy says an announcement on the future location of the decathlon will be made soon. But for many teams hoping to compete in the event this fall, whenever the venue change is announced it will likely be too late. The Washington-centric blog dcist.com quoted one potential decathlon competitor saying the change of plans could mean big problems. "The team has drafted memorandums of understanding with companies that state that the competition will be on the National Mall. International teams, such as New Zealand, have already started to plan shipment of their house. Team Mass, like others, has invested in printed materials stating that the competition will be on the National Mall. The teams had already moved their projects ahead after the DOE and NREL received permits to have the competition on the Mall in September.”
Now let’s not ignore the irony of this entire situation. To be clear, the Department of Energy has moved an event designed to promote sustainability because of its threat to the sustenance of the National Mall. If Alanis Morissette could find a catchy way to whine about this it would be the only actual ironic thing in her song, Ironic. (I’m sorry, but your plane crashing on your first flight is simply a bad circumstance, just because you are scared does not make it ironic.) Still, no matter how actually ironic this National Mall situation is, if the Solar Decathlon is hurting the mall than maybe it is time to give it a break.
Fortunately, another Washington-centered news site was thinking along the same lines and asked the National Park Service (NPS) if the decathlon situation was just part of a bigger effort to ease up on the mall for a bit. According to Washingtoncitypaper.com, the NPS isn’t into directly answering those questions, but instead offered a lengthy response filled with generalities about preserving the mall. “The NPS is asking all permit applicants' help with sustainability and to help maintain the National Mall in a manner so that all Americans and international visitors have access to a National Mall that is welcoming to all. One of the goals of the National Mall Plan is to make the National Mall a great civic space so that all Americans and all international visitors can take in, enjoy and feel a sense of pride in the National Mall,” wrote NPS spokesperson Bill Line.
So the one major green event being moved is the only official decision from NPS right now. In the mean time, the Solar Decathlon is looking for a new home.
Related on MNN: Our green home blogger weighs in on the decision.