Two Years after Solar Decathlon Win, Design Spotlight Still Shines on WaterShed Team
Recognized for their expertise in sustainable design, team members lend their talents in new forums around the globe
Ask Brian Grieb (M.ARCH ’05) how his summer is faring, and he might tell you that he’s experiencing déjà vu. As Project Manager and Architecture Faculty Advisor for UMD’s first-place winning Solar Decathlon entry, WaterShed, Brian spent August of 2011 prepping for the famed U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011, in Washington, D.C. This summer, Brian again finds himself busy prepping for another decathlon, this time as an adjudicator on the Protest Resolution Committee for Solar Decathlon China 2013.
“Yes, gearing up for Solar Decathlon China was a little like history repeating itself,” said Grieb. “This time around, though, it was a bit less stressful!”
Grieb joined fellow WaterShed alum Brittany Williams (M.ARCH ’07) who, earlier this year, took on the sizable job of competition manager for China’s inaugural Solar Decathlon China competition. With two winning U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlons under her belt, as a team leader and then as an Architecture Faculty Advisor, she spent the past six months in China overseeing the planning and execution of the Far East sister-competition she knows almost intimately. It has been a massive undertaking for Williams. Armed with a throng of interns, a high-tech control room and a spiffy green bike (a preferred mode of travel around the competition site), she aptly navigated the complex task of managing 20 international teams, running a smooth competition and interacting with a mostly foreign press corps. SD China announced this year’s winner—Australia’s University of Wollongong—during the closing ceremonies held on August 11.
“Despite the amount of work, SD China was a tremendous and rewarding experience,” said Williams. “I continue to be amazed by the innovative and sustainable design work in these competitions and the teams who competed this past week were absolutely inspiring.”
Professor of Architecture Amy Gardner will also find herself on the other side of the jury box this fall, when she serves as an architecture contest juror for the for the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2013 in California. In her role, Gardner will judge teams on their ability to marry solar power and energy efficiency with inspired, attractive and functional design elements. Gardner is well seasoned for this role–as Principal Investigator, she lead the 2011 WaterShed and 2007 LEAFHouse teams to first-and second place victories, respectively. Joining Gardner in California is UMD Alum Brian Baker (M.ARCH ’01)—making up half of the Solar Decathlon marketing jury—who will be assessing the 20 competing teams on their solar home market strategy. Baker is co-owner and director of marketing and design at Baker Development Group LLC, parent company to the award-winning green design-build firm’s studio26 homes and Renu Building & Energy Solutions.
Gardner also lent her voice to a feature on WaterShed’s winning design for the National Association of Home Builders summer issue of Best in American Living, as part of a prelude to the 2013 competition.
While some of WaterShed’s other team members plan to make the trek out to California in October to see the next generation in sustainable design, they will all certainly reunite later this year for WaterShed’s unveiling at its new home at Pepco’s Rockville facility. With building permits secured in late June and the house modules placed onto their foundations in mid-July, Professional Mentor and team corporate sponsor Taz Ezzat is making significant headway towards construction completion. WaterShed Team Leader Scott Tjaden, who Pepco brought aboard as an Engineering/Environmental intern, continues to oversee the rebuilding of WaterShed’s wetlands and vegetation, nursing them back to full flourish. The final product will no doubt make for a fitting end to another memorable year for WaterShed and its team.
“WaterShed was an experience that we all carry with us and embodies a philosophy we continue to practice in every project we touch,” says Gardner. “I think we are all very happy with where that project has led us.”