Shapiro, Lifschitz & Schram

“They are among the finest construction attorneys with whom I’ve ever worked.”

Evans Barba – President and CEO, Barba Consulting


The 5th biennial US Department of Energy Solar Decathlon opens to the public tomorrow, Friday Sept. 23 at the National Mall’s West Potomac Park.

  •  COST:       Free.
  • DATE:       Sept. 23-Oct. 2. 
  • HOURS:    M-F 10am-2pm; S/S 10am-5:30pm.
  • WHERE:   National Mall’s West Potomac Park, Ohio Drive SW on the bank of the Potomac River (map).
  •  WHAT:     Competitors from around the world face off in a remarkable student collaboration showcasing the latest and greatest in sustainable design.

The award-winning program challenges 20 collegiate teams from around the world to design, build and operate solar-powered houses that are affordable, energy-efficient, attractive, and livable.  (Learn about each team here).  Each home – approximately two years in the making – demonstrates that solar-power can be practical, affordable, and livable.   In addition to educating the public about how to save both energy and money, the Solar Decathlon also provides unique training to the next generation of engineers and architects.  Over the last decade, the competition has prepared approximately 15,000 students to become future innovators and entrepreneurs in clean energy technology and efficient building design. 

The 10-day event will showcase each team’s unique solar-powered, energy-efficient creation.  The homes range from the traditional to the, well, rather bizarre.  All are judged on the same criteria in 10 contests designed to gauge how well the houses perform and how livable and affordable they are.  The 10 contests include:

  • Architecture contest (juried)
  • Market Appeal contest (juried)
  • Engineering contest (juried)
  • Communications contest (juried)
  • Affordability contest (juried) 
  • Comfort Zone contest (measured)
  • Hot Water contest (measured)
  • Appliances contest (measured)
  • Home Entertainment contest (measured and juried)
  • Energy Balance contest (measured)

The winning home will blend affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency.  For example, the Home Entertainment contest gauges whether a house has what it takes to be a home (i.e., how well it accommodates the pleasures of living, such as sharing meals with friends and family, watching movies in a home theater, surfing the Web, and working from home) and requires each team to hold two dinner parties for neighbors, keep all interior and exterior house lights on during specified periods of time, operate a television and computer during specified periods of time, host a movie night for neighbors, and simulate cooking by using a kitchen appliance to vaporize 5 pounds of water within a specified period of time.

Each contest is worth a maximum of 100 points, for a competition total of 1,000 points.  Teams can earn points three ways:



Task completion – Teams complete household tasks such as cooking, washing dishes, and doing laundry;


Monitored performance – Team houses perform to specified criteria, such as maintaining a comfortable (71°–76°F) indoor temperature range; and


Jury evaluation – Jurors who are experts in fields such as architecture, engineering, and communications award points for features that cannot be measured such as aesthetics and design inspiration.

This is a great event not to be missed.  (Learn more about the event here).

Did You Know . . .

Members of the SLS trial group have tried in excess of 50 jury trials and 75 bench trials?

The SLS construction group has worked on sports stadiums across the country including Orioles Park in Baltimore and Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati?

The SLS construction group has worked on power plant projects across the country?

In 2007 SLS was selected for an Honorable Mention as one of the Best Places To Work in Washington DC?

Ron Shapiro, Steve Schram and Judd Lifschitz have all been selected as SuperLawyers by Law and Politics?

The SLS office building is an historic townhouse constructed in the late 1800s?

SLS has been selected by Martindale-Hubbell as a Preeminent Law Firm?

SLS trial lawyers have argued appeals in the U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal for the 4th, 5th, 9th, D.C. and Federal Circuit?

SLS trial lawyers have been lead trial counsel in cases in Arizona, California, District of Columbia, Florida, Louisiana, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas, and Virginia, - to name just a few?

Virtually all the cases that SLS trial lawyers mediated have been favorably settled at mediation?

The transactional group at SLS was lead counsel on one of the largest, most complex mixed-use projects in downtown Washington, DC involving 4 lenders and 6 property owners?

In appreciation for the outstanding efforts of each of its employees during 2007, SLS gave everyone (attorneys, paralegals, and staff) a 4 day/3 night expense paid trip to Key West, Florida?

The transactional group at SLS has represented tenants in more than 200 retail leases in the Mid-Atlantic region?

Every attorney in the transactional group at SLS has at least 15 years experience?

The transactional group at SLS has represented developers in the purchase, construction, financing and/or sale of more than 75 multi-family apartment projects?

The transactional group at SLS has represented real estate investors and developers with respect to property in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, the District of Columbia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Tennessee, Michigan and the U.S. Virginia Islands?

Attorneys in the transactional group at SLS have represented eight national banks in commercial real estate loans?

Attorneys in the transactional group at SLS have represented the FDIC, the Resolution Trust Corporation and several banking institutions in loan workout transactions throughout the Mid-Atlantic region?

The transactional group at SLS has represented homebuilders and commercial real estate developers in work-outs of individual loans and also for work-outs of large portfolios involving dozens of properties in several states?

The trial lawyers of SLS have numerous reported decisions to their credit?