Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Solar Decathlon 411 from our Faculty Advisor, Professor John Clinton

The New School has been selected as a participant in the second round of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon: a two-year international university competition to design and build a solar-powered exhibition house. Finalists will display their houses on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

The competition is intended to encourage affordable model housing that employs innovation in energy conservation and related systems. The New School has joined with the Stevens Institute of Technology to develop a “whole-life” approach to the competition that addresses all aspects of the house-- including furnishings, clothing, and key products--and its role in an actual community through partnership with community organizations, nonprofits, and municipal government. The Decathlon competition is viewed by the New School/Stevens team as a vehicle for grassroots collaboration; they are committed to building the model house and placing it in a D.C. community whatever the outcome of the official competition. Discussions are underway with community and nonprofit leaders in Washington, D.C. to work together on a house design that reflects community needs and sustainability initiatives.

Milano students in Organizational Change Management, Urban Policy, and Nonprofit Management participated in the initial (Fall 2009) Parsons course to develop the design proposal to the Department of Energy. To date, ten Milano faculty have expressed interest in incorporating elements of the project in their classes. Milano’s contribution to the project focuses on three areas that reflect faculty expertise and student interests: resource development (fundraising, marketing, finance); process facilitation (large group processes, team-building, organizational assessment, client relationships); and public policy (public policy to encourage affordable/environmentally sustainable housing, community development, social entrepreneurship).

At the January 29-30 Kickoff events, 6 Milano faculty participated in Friday evening and Saturday meetings, workshops, and information sessions, and Milano part-time faculty member Virginia Terry delivered the keynote address on climate change policy and its bearing on the Solar Decathlon. Milano part-time faculty member Scott Gassman served as facilitator of the 3-hour joint session of Parsons, Stevens, Milano, and Lang faculty; the Deans of Parsons and Stevens Engineering School were active participants in the sessions.

For some more information: visit

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