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Third place out of 19 teams, not too shabby at all

It may not have been first place, but when Victoria University’s First Light team was named third in the highly prestigious and super competitive Solar Decathlon competition, they tell us it felt like they’d won the competition. In their latest blog, the team enlighten us on how the various contest within the competition worked in their favour, sometimes unexpectedly. 

When the results from the contests first started to come out we were ranked ninth out of 19 teams, but with a number of important contest results to come, we weren’t too worried. We had high hopes for the architecture contest, which we ended up coming second in. But the biggest surprise of all was the results from the engineering contest. We knew our guys had done a good job on the engineering side of things but with a number of the other teams coming from engineering schools, we figured they’d take out the top spots. 

When New Zealand was announced as the top team in the engineering contest we were all a little speechless, none more so than Ben (student leader in charge of technologies) who started his acceptance speech with “Holy crap”. Ben and the building science team (Liam, Andrew, Rob and Josh) were all to thank for their sophisticated engineering design along with Leon, Byron, Kah and the team who worked on developing ‘Tring’ ,our home’s system for viewing energy use. 

The team celebrates after their engineering win

Thanks to a number of good contest results under our belt, the day before the final results were announced, we managed to climb from ninth place to fourth. All that was left to be announced was the market appeal contest. To our elation we placed third in Market Appeal. As one of the more subjective contests we had no idea how the marks would be dished out for this one. 

Prior to the market appeal contest announcement, Maryland University was sitting in first place, followed by Purdue University in second and SCI-Arc/CalTech in third.  We were tantalisingly close to the leaders, just a few points behind and sitting in fourth. Our high score for market appeal turned out to be enough to get us over the line and on the podium with Purdue and Maryland keeping their spots at the top. 

When third place overall was announced the team was ecstatic. It might not have been first place, but it sure felt that way to us. Placing third out of 19 teams felt pretty darn good! 

Visitors to the solar village, together with contest organisers, were adamant the houses this year were a step above the previous years. While we may not have been involved with previous Solar Decathlons, we would have to agree about the high standard set by all the teams. 

Getting to know the teams and see inside their inventive houses has been incredible. Our team has had a fantastic time representing Victoria University and New Zealand in the competition and we’ve really enjoyed bringing a little bit of our Kiwi lifestyle to the competition. 

Here’s how we did: 

  • Engineering – 1st place
  • Hot Water – 1st place equal
  • Energy Balance – 1st place equal
  • Architecture – 2nd place
  • Market Appeal – 3rd place
  • Communications – 5th place
  • Home Entertainment – 8th place
  • Affordability – 9th place
  • Comfort Zone – 12th place
  • Appliances – 14th place 

Overall – 3rd place!!!

If you fancy a refresher on what the First Light project is all about, check out these videos where the team explain the design and strategy behind the house.