2005 International Builder's Show
January 13 - 16, 2005
Among the 104,922 people that flooded the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando Fla. for the 62nd annual International Builder's Show were six members of the University of Maryland's 2005 Solar Decathlon Team.
The group spent four days, from January 13-16, touring the 1.5 million square feet of exhibits displaying the newest technological advancements and mingling with vendors, other home builders, developers and architects with the hope of securing donations for the house.
"The original reason we attended the show was to find companies that would provide building materials and equipment at free or reduced cost," said Rob Murray, project manager.
By the end of the four days the group had accepted many donations from companies including Tendura, a composite deck company who agreed to donate their decking product for free, and Simpson Strong-Tie who will provide some of the metal connections and fasteners for the home for free. Another company, EZ Tanks, agreed to donate a water tank for the house.
"Those four days we saved ourselves countless hours talking on the phone and writing letters," Murray said. "Meeting with company representatives in person allowed us to give a more convincing sales pitch and also increase the exposure the Solar Decathlon competition."
One unique exhibit at the Builder's Show was the concept home called the "Not So Big Showhouse." The house was designed by Solar Decathlon architecture judge, Sarah Susanka who created the house to include all the amenities of a large home in a smaller space.
"We saw at the demo house the way everything could come together," said assistant project manager Najahyia Chinchilla. "It was a good example of comprehensive design; it had all the elements that we are trying to include in our house."
Going to Orlando also became a bonding experience for the group. "An unexpected bonus of the trip, was just getting to know some of the teammates even better, I think it is kind of silly, but if we could get through Orlando I think we could make it through the rest of the project," Murray said.
Part of that bonding experience was the group of six having to share one hotel room. In a last minute change of plans, the hotel they were staying at cancelled one of the two rooms and with almost 105,000 show attendees in the area, there wasn't a hotel room to be found in a 25 mile radius.
"Sharing a hotel room with six people was a challenge, but it helped us become a tighter knit group," Murray added.
Department of Energy Solar Decathlon Website