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Solar Decathlon Creates Energy-Efficient Houses.

Today is Blog Action Day, and the issue this year is climate change. As I was thinking about what to write, I stumbled upon a really cool, innovative competition happening right now in Washington D.C. called the Solar Decathlon.

What is it, you ask? It’s a competition hosted by the Department of Energy for college and university students to create their own solar-powered house. In addition to raising awareness about the benefits of energy-efficiency and green technologies, the competition also aims to promote a new approach to green housing. This approach includes aesthetics and comfort as well as energy-efficiency into the house designs. The Solar Decathlon caught my attention because students from the University of Minnesota have built a house for the competition—they are currently in 5th place with the winner being announced tomorrow.

What’s so cool about the Solar Decathlon is that it makes student innovators focus not just on green components of the house, but on the house as a green system. Being a college student myself, some of the neat, crazy things these fellow students have come up with boggles my mind! MinnPost reports that the lighting and temperature of many houses can be change remotely with an iPhone app, or that houses can adjust interior conditions using weather data to tint electrochemical windows.

The idea behind the house-as-a-system approach is simple—they save energy, but by focusing on aesthetics as well as energy efficiency the houses seem more livable.

"A lot of people have been saying that they could see themselves eating breakfast in this corner, that the house feels livable," said Melissa Sander of Iowa State University as she guided visitors through the house. Their house placed 3rd in market viability.

What these students are doing has led to some pretty incredible innovations in the solar energy industry, such as creating a heat-absorbing lining made of insulating pizza boxes material. Their contributions are going to improve our green economy and increase green jobs across the country.

With all the new and exciting innovations happening within the green industry, we must also be aware of the real world negative impacts of global warming. The Center for American Progress has compiled a list of the top 100 effects of global warming which range from having to say goodbye to many wines to more stray kittens. It also confirms something Stephen Colbert has been saying for a long time: that bears are the #1 threat to America. Global warming has apparently made the winters in Russia too hot for bears to hibernate. As a result, they have become unusually aggressive, so the emergency ministry has warned the citizens to beware of brown bear attacks. Colbert, your mistrust of bears has finally been justified!

Don’t believe that bears are a threat? This video might change your mind: The Colbert ReportMon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30cStephen Colbert’s Problems Without Solutions – Bearswww.colbertnation.comColbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorMichael Moore

Photo Credit: MinnPost

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