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Team Tidewater to Speak About Solar Decathlon Entry at Greening Virginia Universities Conference

Old Dominion University and Hampton University will participate in the finals of the 2013 Department of Energy Solar Decathlon in California.

But the two schools' 2011 Solar Decathlon effort, Unit 6 Unplugged, is still being talked about.

Members of Team Tidewater (the name for the two-school entry the U.S. Department of Energy-sponsored event) will speak about Unit 6 Unplugged at the Greening Virginia Universities and Colleges Conference at George Mason University on Wednesday, Feb. 29.

"This is a great opportunity, and I'm really excited that our team is receiving another opportunity to speak about our design," said ODU's Mujde Erten-Unal, one of four faculty advisers for Team Tidewater. Erten-Unal is an associate professor of environmental engineering and director of the ODU Sustainable Development Institute.

The Greening Virginia Universities and Colleges Conference, now in its fifth year, was created by the nonprofit Virginia Sustainable Building Network.

The conference is designed to bring together higher education administrators, energy and sustainability staff, professors and students to share success stories and lessons learned as schools in Virginia move ahead to adopt sustainability policies, track carbon and energy use, and develop plans to reduce their energy and environmental impacts.

Unit 6 Unplugged, which finished 14th in the 2011 Solar Decathlon finals in Washington, D.C., was designed as an affordable, net-zero energy, infill apartment dwelling for an urban area such as Hampton Roads.

Utilizing off-the-shelf solar technology, Team Tidewater's design aimed to show that "urban, affordable and sustainable" can exist simultaneously in a building that looks stylish as well.

The Unit 6 Unplugged house is being permanently sited on the ODU campus at 47th Street and Killam Avenue, where it will serve as headquarters for the university's Sustainable Development Institute and a showcase for green living technology.

There are also ongoing discussions with Hampton Roads development agencies seeking to commercialize the Unit 6 Unplugged design.

The Feb. 29 conference will feature a lunchtime address by Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, senior adviser with the Pew Project on National Security, Energy and Climate. Sustainability initiatives at local colleges and universities will also be showcased, in areas such as policy, buildings, operations and community engagement.

Founded in 1995 as a 501-c-3 organization, Virginia Sustainable Building Network (VSBN) adopted as its mission the promotion of environmentally sound, energy-efficient building and development practices for all Virginians.

Located in Arlington, VSBN works throughout the commonwealth of Virginia, in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area and the mid-Atlantic region.