stage with black curtain that reads sustainability decathalon
Chapman faculty Fred Smoller and Lecturer Mike Moodian were chosen by the OC Register for creating the OC Sustainability Decathlon.

Chapman Faculty Organize Inaugural Orange County Sustainability Decathlon

Chapman faculty Fred Smoller and Mike Moodian, along with alumna Kristina Lamb ’16, are leading an effort to promote more sustainable housing in California through the Orange County Sustainability Decathlon (OCSD), which took place in October at the Orange County Fair and Event Center in Costa Mesa. 

The OCSD challenges university teams from across the country to design and build model homes that address climate change and California’s housing needs. Teams showcased their innovative, market-ready model homes in a sustainable village and competed for awards in categories such as architecture, energy efficiency and market potential. 

Rancho Cielo Youth Campus of Salinas took first place in the overall competition. Other competing schools included UC Irvine, Cal Poly Pomona and Brigham Young University. Though Chapman did not have a team in the competition this year, a number of students helped run the event, which gave an opportunity to academies with underserved students to participate in the kind of competition that is often reserved for students at elite institutions. 

“Education plays a major role in combating climate change,” said Smoller, who is an associate professor of political science in Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. “Through the OCSD, we are bringing together the best and brightest teams from across the globe, creating sustainable model solar-powered homes and practical housing solutions.” 

The event was possible thanks to a $5 million allocation from California’s 2021-22 budget, acquired through the assistance of State Sen. Dave Min (D-Irvine). Min and California State University System STEM-NET Executive Director Frank Gomez were featured speakers at the opening ceremony.

The OCSD is modeled after the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon, which Smoller helped bring to the city of Irvine in 2013. Lamb, a communication studies major who works for Tesla, was a member of Chapman’s 2015 Solar Decathlon team

Staci Dumoski