The History of the OCSD

Building A Better Future

The Need for Sustainability​

Imagining the Future of California

California has reached a tipping point in the need to mitigate climate change: Wildfires ravage our communities, droughts impact food production and water supplies, rising sea levels erode our coastline, and shifting weather patterns threaten many of California’s natural wonders. We need resilient, sustainable housing that can endure all this and provide affordable homes to consumers.

Richard King is the Founder of the Department of Energy Solar Decathlon in 2002. Under King’s direction, the Solar Decathlon was held biannually in Washington, DC from 2002 to 2011, and in California from 2013 to 2015. Fred Smoller, who is on the faculty at Chapman University, worked on a proposal to bring the Solar Decathlon to California, where it was held at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine in 2013 and 2015.

Since then, Fred Smoller and Mike Moodian, a longtime academic and community leader, have worked to create California’s very own competition. A substantial grant from the California legislature, championed by California State Senator Dave Min, provides the resources to organize and hold the first Orange County Sustainability Decathlon.

Richard King has joined Fred Smoller and Mike Moodian to organize an expanded collegiate competition and sustainability exposition, whose goal is to provide innovative solutions to today’s most challenging environmental and affordable housing problems.


Fred Smoller
Fred Smoller (President and CEO) has been working to get the Orange County Sustainability Decathlon up and running for several years. Fred is an Associate Professor of Political Science and has been on the Chapman faculty since 1983. He received his Ph.D. from Indiana University. Smoller was instrumental in bringing the U.S. Solar Decathlon to Orange County in 2013 and 2015. Named one of Orange County’s 2021 Most Influential by the OC Register, Fred is also the author of the book From Kleptocracy to Democracy: How Citizens Can Take Back Local Government (2018). Now, his dream of a decathlon that focuses on green, affordable, sustainable housing is coming true as well.
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Richard King
Richard King (Competition Director) has led award-winning competitions across Europe, China, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, and many other parts of the world for more than three decades. In 2002, he created the first Solar Decathlon for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), which attracted 100,000 visitors. Richard served as Director of six more solar decathlon competitions, and over a 20-year period inspired more than 20,000 participating students and 300 professors from 128 decathlon teams at 170 universities across the country. Having stepped away from the DOE, King is truly happy to be working on a competition that focuses on sustainability and the housing needs of future generations.
Michael A. Moodian
Michael A. (Mike) Moodian (Chief Communications Officer) is a longtime Orange County-based researcher and community leader. Mike wrote, coproduced, and codirected the documentary Coastal Crisis, which explores the causes and effects of coastal erosion on California’s beach communities. He has received three separate appointments by two different California governors to serve on a state ethics commission. Mike earned a doctorate degree in education from Pepperdine University as well as a master’s degree in communications from California State University, Fullerton. He was named (along with Fred Smoller) as one of Orange County’s 2021 Most Influential by the OC Register. A longstanding champion of the planet, Mike is rising to the needs of the community and looks forward to tomorrow's innovations.
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Mike Wassmer
Mike Wassmer (Competition Manager) is a licensed professional engineer who designs, implements, and manages technical aspects of collegiate home design competitions. During his eight years at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado, Mike was the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon Competition Manager. He also designed and administered the world’s first decentralized, collegiate zero-energy home design competition for The Research Council of Oman. With his extensive experience installing research-grade energy monitoring systems, Mike is right at home contributing to the success and prestige of the Orange County Sustainability Decathlon.
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Event Overview

California’s legislature has adopted the bold and commendable goal of being 100% renewable by 2045. To do this, the state must harness the creative energy of its youth and the academic community.

The Orange County Sustainability Decathlon (OCSD23) is an exciting new competition to motivate and empower California’s best and brightest to lead the State’s transition to 100% renewables.

The OCSD23 challenges multidisciplinary teams of researchers, architects, builders and innovators to design and build replicable housing units to accelerate sustainable development throughout the State. The winners of the competition will need to blend affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal renewable energy production, sustainability and efficiency. Everyone wins because the award-winning designs can be readily replicated throughout the State.

Become a Sponsor

Your contributions are tax-deductible. OCSD23 is a Charitable Ventures project.