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KNOXVILLE—In just three days, Team Living Light begins transporting the stunning, state-of-the-art, zero-energy house to the Washington Mall to compete in the US Department of Energy’s 2011 Solar Decathlon.

Representing more than 200 students and nine academic programs, UT’s team will face off against nineteen other teams in a series of ten events beginning September 23. Winners will be announced October 1.

More than two years of work have gone into qualifying, planning, designing, and building the 750-square-foot home, inspired by Appalachia’s cantilever barns.

Along with being on display, the house will be part of ten competitive events to judge design excellence, sustainability, energy production, solar energy efficiency, consumer appeal, and cost-effectiveness. The house’s energy source must power its appliances and heat water and one event involves cooking and hosting a dinner party.

Visitors to the Washington Mall will tour the houses and learn how energy-saving features can help them save money. UT students have been preparing to give tours and have been advised to plan for seeing an average of 400 people an hour through the home.

These final days have been spent testing all of the home’s systems, practicing for tours, and moving the structure to its specially designed trailer attachments. Alumnus Bill Powell, of Powell Companies in Johnson City, has provided his expertise and the resources of his company to help the team move its self-contained house to the nation’s capital.

UT students designed the structure to be transportable on its own and to avoid extensive construction and set-up that they’ve seen teams struggle through when visiting the past Solar Decathlon competitions.

Living Light began with students and faculty in the College of Architecture and Design and is led by faculty members James Rose, Edgar Stach, Richard Kelso, and Barbara Klinkhammer in the college, along with Deb Shmerler in the School of Art, Leon Tolbert in electrical engineering, and Stan Johnson and Bill Miller in mechanical engineering.

UT’s competition hails from America and abroad, including Ohio State, Purdue, the University of Illinois, and teams that represent several large schools in Florida, along with New Zealand, China, Belgium, and Canada.

To follow the team during the next month, visit

To see a video about the project, visit

To learn more about the competition, visit Also, to show your support, go to this website and vote for Living Light to receive the People’s Choice Award. Voting begins online at 8:00 a.m. on September 22 and continues until 7:00 p.m. on September 30.


Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,