28 September 2011
Helen Clark and Bill English tour solar Kiwi bach in US capital
A Kiwi bach on US soil has had a couple of high powered New Zealanders through its doors recently.
Former Prime Minister the Rt Hon Helen Clark (now Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme) and Deputy
Prime Minister Hon Bill English both took a tour around the Meridian First Light house – Victoria University’s entry
into the US Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011.
The Victoria University team is the first finalist ever from the Southern Hemisphere in this prestigious and highly
anticipated international competition.
The Solar Decathlon challenges university teams from around the world to design, build and operate solar-powered houses
that are cost-effective, energy-efficient and attractive.
The student team was excited to show the dignitaries and public through their Kiwi bach inspired house.
Team member Nick Officer says: “Bill English came through the first day we opened and Helen Clark the next. It was great
to get to show them around the house and unlike the US public we didn’t need to start with how to pronounce ‘bach’. They
both really seemed to like it and appreciated the Kiwi touches like Marmite in the kitchen cupboard.”
Tours through the 19 student built houses kicked off on the 23rd of September with thousands of visitors from the
Washington DC area, including bus loads of school students, coming to check out the solar village on West Potomac Park.
Teams worked 24 hours for almost seven days on the National Mall’s West Potomac Park to complete their homes. They are
now competing for 10 days in a series of 10 contests while opening to the public at the same time.
The contests challenge teams in a number of different areas including energy balance and home entertainment. This
includes hosting two dinner parties and cooking dinner in the houses and holding a movie night.
Nick says: “Of all the teams, we got the highest marks for our first dinner party; I guess our Kiwi hospitality is
helping us out!”
Some of the contests are announced throughout the week with the winner of the competition to be announced on the 1st of
For more information visit www.firstlighthouse.ac.nz