Solar Decathlon

The US Department of Energy Solar Decathlon is an international collegiate competition made up of 10 contests that challenge student teams to design and build full-size, solar-powered houses. The winner of the competition is the team that best blends design excellence and smart energy production with innovation, market potential, and energy and water efficiency .

The first Solar Decathlon was held in 2002. The competition has been successfully held in 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2015. [1] The Solar Decathlon 2017 will be located in Denver, Colorado, adjacent to the 61st & Peña station on line from Denver International Airport to downtown Union Station. In addition to the competition, Solar Decathlon 2017 will also feature a sustainability exhibition, professional development and consumer workshops, and middle-school education events. [2]

Open to the public and free of charge, the Solar Decathlon allows visitors to tour energy-and-water-efficient houses, and gather ideas to save energy and conserve water in their homes.

The Solar Decathlon 2017 competition is presented by the US Department of Energy and administered by Energetics, Incorporated, a subsidiary of VSE Corporation . Previous competitions were administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

Since the first competition in 2002, the Solar Decathlon has expanded internationally to include additional international competitions in Europe, China, Latin America and Caribbean, the Middle East, and Africa. [3] Solar Decathlon Europe was established under a 2007 memorandum of understanding between the United States and Spain , which hosted competitions in 2010 and 2012. France hosted in 2014. [4] The next Solar Decathlon Europe is planned for 2019 in Szentendre, Hungary < >. [5]

The Solar Decathlon China was established with the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the US Department of Energy, China’s National Energy Administration, Peking University and Applied Materials on January 20, 2011. The first Solar Decathlon China took place in August 2013 in the city of Datong. The next Solar Decathlon China will take place in 2018 and was formed through a memorandum of understanding by the United States Department of Energy , the People’s Republic of China , and the China Overseas Development Corporation. [6] [7]

Solar Decathlon Latin America and Caribbean was established under a memorandum of understanding between the United States Department of Energy and the Government of Colombia in 2014. The first competition was held in Cali in December 2015, and another competition is planned for 2018. [8]

Solar Decathlon Middle East, to be held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in 2018, was formed by a memorandum of understanding between the United States Department of Energy and the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority in 2015. An additional Solar Decathlon Middle East is also expected to take place in 2020. [9]

On November 15, 2016, the Moroccan Ministry of Energy, Mines, Water, and the Environment (MEMEE); the Moroccan Research Institute in Solar Energy and New Energies (IRESEN); and the US Department of Energy signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on the development of Solar Decathlon Africa. The competition is expected to take place in 2019. [10]


The inaugural Solar Decathlon was open to the public between September 19 and October 6, 2002. Fourteen teams from across the United States, including Puerto Rico , presented their projects on the National Mall in Washington, DC The University of Colorado was awarded first place. At the second Solar Decathlon, likewise held on the National Mall on October 6-16, 2005, eighteen teams from the United States, Canada, and Spain participated; the University of Colorado successfully defended its championship.

The third Solar Decathlon took place on the National Mall on October 12-20, 2007. Twenty teams from the United States, Canada, Spain, and Germany competed, and Technische Universität Darmstadt (Team Germany) was named the overall champion. The fourth Solar Decathlon was held on the National Mall on October 8-18, 2009, and included teams from the United States, Canada, Germany, and Spain; Team Germany was named the winner for a second time.

The fifth Solar Decathlon took place between September 23 and October 2, 2011, with nineteen participating teams representing the United States, China, New Zealand, Belgium, and Canada. The event was held in Washington DC’s West Potomac Park , near the Potomac River , the Tidal Basin and the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial , along the road between the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials . [11] The University of Maryland was the overall competition winner. [12] The sixth Solar Decathlon took place on October 3-13, 2013, in Orange County Great Park in Irvine, California- it was the first Solar Decathlon to take place outside Washington DC, and was won by Vienna University of Technology (Team Austria). [13] [14] The Solar Seventh Solar Decathlon was held October 8 – 18, 2015, also at the Orange County Great Park . Stevens Institute of Technology was the overall winner. This was their third Solar Decathlon competition.


In 2010, the National Building Museum awarded the Solar Decathlon an Honor Award for its emphasis on “renewable energy, energy-efficient, and environmentally responsible systems” and its role in “educating a new generation of built-environment professionals”. [15]

Scope of contests

Like the Olympic decathlon, the US Department of Solar Energy Decathlon consists of 10 contests. The contests evaluate cost-effective design; balanced innovation with market potential; water and energy efficiency; energy production and time-of-use energy; and communications strategies. Each Solar Decathlon is worth a maximum of 100 points, for a potential total competition of 1,000 points. Team earn points through task completion, performance monitoring, and jury evaluation.

Contest 1: Architecture

For the Architecture Contest of the US Dept. of Energy Solar Decathlon 2017, the teams are required to design and build attractive, high-performance houses that integrate solar and energy efficiency technologies seamlessly into the design.

Contest 2: Market Potential

For the Market Potential Contest of the US Department of Solar Energy Decathlon 2017, each team is required to design a primary residence for a year-round occupancy for a specific target customer of its choosing.

Contest 3: Engineering

Solar Decathlon houses are marvels of engineering. For the US Dept. of Energy Solar Decathlon 2017, Designing, Efficiency, Performance and Documentation.

Contest 4: Communications

The US Dept. of Energy Decathlon Solar 2017 teams must develop and implement communications strategies to engage their local communities, provide them in the Denver, and make an impact across the world through their digital presence and media outreach.

Contest 5: Innovation

New for the US Department of Solar Energy Decathlon 2017, the Innovation Contest encourages teams to take a thoughtful approach to innovation, rather than being limited to solely off-the-shelf solutions.

Other contests, such as Market Potential, provide further checks and balances

Contest 6: Water

Always ahead of their time, past Solar Decathlon teams have consistently integrated water and reuse strategies into their designs, even though no points have been awarded for this effort. Now, the US Department of Solar Energy Decathlon 2017 is rewarding smart water solutions for the first time.

This new contest is important not only because it is a precious resource, but also because it is inextricably linked to it, and it takes place in the energy market.

Contest 7: Health and Comfort

New for 2017, the US Department of Solar Energy Solar Decathlon Health and Comfort Contest combines solar decathlon competitions. Teams are challenged to build a house that minimizes the flow of heat, keep it cool and keep it cool.

Contest 8: Appliances

The US Department of Solar Energy Decathlon 2017 Appliances Contest is designed to mimic the use of an average US home. Teams earn points for operating their refrigerator and washing machine, simulating cooking tasks and hot showers.

Contest 9: Home Life

The Home Life Contest in the US Department of Solar Energy Decathlon 2017 is a capable of being a home. Teams are required to engage in a variety of activities just like real homeowners. They share meals with friends and neighbors, watch television, use their computers, and host games nights. They even switch in an electric vehicle from the house’s solar electric system.

Contest 10: Energy Contest

The Energy Contest of the US Department of Solar Energy Decathlon 2017 evaluates each team’s energy production and has a value in the energy of the Solar Decathlon electricity grid.

For energy production, the teams receive full points for the production of energy at home, thus achieving a net energy consumption of zero during the competition.

The energy value component of the Energy Contest is designed to be used in conjunction with a utility, including a net-metering agreement and time-of-use electricity rates.



Teams selected for the Solar Decathlon 2017 competition in Denver , Colorado are:

  • Georgia Tech : Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, GA) The Georgia Tech University team withdrew from the competition on November 22, 2016. [16]
  • Las Vegas : University of Nevada, Las Vegas (Las Vegas, NV)
  • Maryland : University of Maryland (College Park, MD)
  • Missouri S & T : Missouri University of Science and Technology (Rolla, MO)
  • Netherlands : HU University of Applied Science Utrecht (Utrecht, Netherlands)
  • Northwestern : Northwestern University (Evanston, IL)
  • Swiss Team : Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne, School of Engineering and Architecture Friborg, Geneva University of Art and Design, and the University of Friborg (Lausanne, Switzerland and Friborg, Switzerland)
  • Alabama Team : University of Alabama at Birmingham; University of Alabama, Huntsville; and Calhoun Community College (Burlington, AL, Huntsville, AL and Tanner, AL)
  • Team Daytona Beach : Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Daytona State College (Daytona Beach, FL)
  • UC Berkeley : University of California at Berkeley (Berkeley, CA)
  • UC Davis : University of California, Davis (Davis, CA)
  • Wash U : Washington University (St. Louis, MO)
  • Washington State : Washington State University (Pullman, WA) The Washington State team withdrew from the competition in September 2017, just before the time to transport the house to the competition. [17]
  • West Virginia : West Virginia University (Morgantown, WV) The West Virginia University team withdrew from Solar Decathlon 2017 in April 2017, after completing many rigorous competition deliverables, including construction drawings. [18]


Teams selected for the 2015 Solar Decathlon competition, also held at Orange County Great Park in Irvine, California .

  • California Polytechnic State University (San Luis Obispo, CA)
Missouri University of Science and Technology, US Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2015 entry.
  • California State University , Sacramento (Sacramento, CA)
  • Clemson University (Clemson, SC)
  • Crowder College (Neosho, MO) and Drury University (Springfield, MO)
  • Missouri University of Science and Technology (Rolla, MO)
  • New York City College of Technology (New York, NY)
  • State University of New York at Alfred College of Technology and Alfred University (Alfred, NY)
  • Stevens Institute of Technology (Hoboken, NJ)
  • University of Florida, National University of Singapore, and Santa Fe College
  • The University of Texas at Austin and Technische Universitaet Muenchen
  • University at Buffalo , State University of New York
  • University of California , Davis
  • University of California, Irvine; Chapman University; Irvine Valley College and Saddleback College
  • Vanderbilt University and Middle Tennessee State University
  • West Virginia University and University Tor Vergata
  • Western New England University, Tecnológica University of Panamá, and Universidad Tecnológica Centroamericana


AIR House of Czech Technical University team. in 2014 rebuilt in Prague as the Information Center of the CTU

Teams selected for the Solar Decathlon 2013 competition in Orange County Great Park in Irvine, California, the first one to be held outside of Washington, DC , [19] were: [20]

  • Arizona State University and the University of New Mexico (Tempe, Arizona, and Albuquerque, New Mexico) [21]
  • Czech Technical University (Prague, Czech Republic) [22]
  • Hampton University and Old Dominion University (Hampton and Norfolk, Virginia) [23]
  • Middlebury College (Middlebury, Vermont) [24]
  • Missouri University of Science and Technology (Rolla, Missouri) [25]
  • Norwich University (Northfield, Vermont) [26]
  • Queen’s University , Carleton University , and Algonquin College (Kingston and Ottawa, Ontario, Canada) [27]
  • Santa Clara University (Santa Clara, California) [28]
  • Southern California Institute of Architecture and California Institute of Technology (Los Angeles, California) [29]
  • Stanford University (Palo Alto, California) [30]
  • Stevens Institute of Technology (Hoboken, New Jersey) [31]
  • George Washington University , The Catholic University of America , and American University (Washington, DC) [32]
  • The University of North Carolina at Charlotte (Charlotte, North Carolina) [33]
  • The University of Texas at El Paso and El Paso Community College (El Paso, Texas) [34]
  • University of Calgary (Calgary, Alberta, Canada) [35]
  • University of Louisville , Ball State University and University of Kentucky (Louisville, Kentucky; Muncie, Indiana; and Lexington, Kentucky) [36]
  • University of Nevada Las Vegas (Las Vegas, Nevada) [37]
  • University of Southern California (Los Angeles, California) [38]
  • Vienna University of Technology (Vienna, Austria) [39] winner 2013
  • West Virginia University (Morgantown, West Virginia) [40]


Teams selected for the Solar Decathlon 2011 competition were:

  • Appalachian State University ( team page )
  • Florida International University ( team page )
  • Middlebury College ( team page )
  • New Zealand: Victoria University of Wellington ( team page )
  • Ohio State University ( team page )
  • Parsons The New School for Design , Milano The New School for Management and Urban Policy , and the Stevens Institute of Technology ( team page )
  • Purdue University ( team page )
  • Southern California Institute of Architecture and California Institute of Technology ( team page )
  • Team Belgium: Ghent University ( team page )
  • Team Canada: University of Calgary ( team page )
  • Team China: Tongji University ( team page )
  • Team Florida: Florida State University , the University of Central Florida , the University of Florida , and the University of South Florida ( team page )
  • Team Massachusetts: Massachusetts College of Art and Design and the University of Massachusetts Lowell ( team page )
  • Team New Jersey: Rutgers – The State University of New Jersey and New Jersey Institute of Technology ( team page )
  • Team New York: City College of New York ( team page )
  • Tidewater Virginia: Old Dominion University and Hampton University ( team page )
  • University of Hawaii ( team page ) * On June 1, 2011, the US Department of Energy received formal notification from the * University of Hawaii from its withdrawal from Solar Decathlon 2011.
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign ( team page )
  • University of Maryland ( team page ) winner 2011
  • The University of Tennessee ( team page )


The competing teams in Solar Decathlon 2009 were: [41] [42]

  • Cornell University ( team page )
  • Iowa State University ( team page )
  • Penn State (team page )
  • Rice University ( team page )
  • Team Alberta : University of Calgary , SAIT Polytechnic, Alberta College of Art and Design, and Mount Royal College ( team page )
  • Boston Team: Boston Architectural College and Tufts University ( team page )
  • Team California: Santa Clara University and California College of the Arts ( team page )
  • Team Germany: Darmstadt Technische Universität ( team page ) winner 2009
  • Team Missouri: Missouri University of Science and Technology and University of Missouri ( team page )
  • Team Ontario / BC: University of Waterloo , Ryerson University , and Simon Fraser University ( team page )
  • Team Spain: Universidad Politécnica de Madrid ( team page )
  • Ohio State University ( team page )
  • The University of Arizona ( team page )
  • University of Puerto Rico ( team page )
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign ( team page )
  • University of Kentucky ( team page )
  • University of Louisiana at Lafayette ( team page )
  • University of Minnesota ( team page )
  • University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee ( team page )
  • Virginia Tech ( team page )


Georgia Tech’s entry to Solar Decathlon 2007, located on Tech campus.
Team Montreal: School of Higher Technology , University of Montreal , and McGill University

The 20 competing teams in Solar Decathlon 2007 were:

  • Carnegie Mellon University ( team page )
  • Cornell University ( team page )
  • Georgia Institute of Technology ( team page )
  • Kansas Project Solar House: Kansas State University and University of Kansas ( team page )
  • Lawrence Technological University ( team page )
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (team page)
  • New York Institute of Technology ( team page )
  • Penn State University ( team page )
  • Santa Clara University (team page )
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign ( team page )
  • Team Montreal: School of Higher Technology , University of Montreal , and McGill University ( team page )
  • Technische Universität Darmstadt ( team page ) winner 2007
  • Texas A & M University ( team page )
  • Universidad Politécnica de Madrid ( team page )
  • University of Puerto Rico ( team page )
  • University of Cincinnati ( team page )
  • University of Colorado at Boulder ( team page )
  • University of Maryland ( team page )
  • Missouri-Rolla University (now Missouri S & T ) ( team page )
  • University of Texas at Austin ( team page )


Pittsburgh Synergy Solar Decathlon House at Carnegie Mellon University .

The 18 competing universities in Solar Decathlon 2005 were:

  • California Polytechnic State University
  • Canadian Solar Decathlon: Concordia University and University of Montreal
  • Cornell University ( team page )
  • Crowder College
  • Florida International University
  • New York Institute of Technology ( team page )
  • Pittsburgh Synergy: Carnegie Mellon University, University of Pittsburgh , and the Art Institute of Pittsburgh ( team page )
  • Rhode Island School of Design
  • University of Puerto Rico
  • Universidad Politécnica de Madrid ( team page )
  • University of Colorado , Denver and Boulder winner 2005
  • University of Maryland ( team page )
  • University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
  • University of Michigan
  • Missouri-Rolla University (now Missouri S & T ) and Rolla Technical Institute ( team page )
  • University of Texas Austin ( UT SolarD team page )
  • Virginia Tech ( team page )
  • Washington State University


The 14 competing teams in Solar Decathlon 2002 were:

  • Auburn University
  • Carnegie Mellon
  • Crowder College
  • Texas A & M University
  • Tuskegee University
  • University of Colorado at Boulder winner 2002
  • University of Delaware
  • University of Maryland
  • Missouri-Rolla University (now Missouri S & T ) and Rolla Technical Institute ( team page )
  • University of North Carolina at Charlotte
  • University of Puerto Rico
  • University of Texas at Austin
  • University of Virginia ( team page )
  • Virginia Tech

See also

  • Energy conservation
  • Green building
  • Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design , a US certification for sustainable architecture
  • Low-energy house
  • Sustainable architecture


This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Government .

  1. Jump up^ “History” . Solar Decathlon . Retrieved March 26, 2015 .
  2. Jump up^ “Plan Your Visit” . Solar Decathlon . Retrieved August 28, 2017 .
  3. Jump up^ “International” . Solar Decathlon . Retrieved August 28, 2017 .
  4. Jump up^ “Solar Decathlon Europe” . Solar Decathlon . Retrieved March 26,2015 .
  5. Jump up^ “Solar Decathlon Europe” . Solar Decathlon . Retrieved August 28,2017 .
  6. Jump up^ “Solar Decathlon China” . Solar Decathlon . Retrieved August 28,2017 .
  7. Jump up^ “TEAM UW’S ILAWARRA FLAME HOUSE – WINNER OF THE DECATHLON CHINA 2013 SOLAR” . University of Wollongong. September 25, 2013 . Retrieved March 26, 2015 .
  8. Jump up^ “Latin America and Caribbean Solar Decathlon” . Solar Decathlon . Retrieved August 28, 2017 .
  9. Jump up^ “Solar Decathlon Middle East” . Solar Decathlon . Retrieved August 28, 2017 .
  10. Jump up^ “Solar Decathlon Africa” . US Department of Energy . Retrieved August 28, 2017 . This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain .
  11. Jump up^
  12. Jump up^ “University of Maryland Wins Solar Decathlon 2011!” . Solar Decathlon. October 1, 2011 . Retrieved October 5, 2011 .
  13. Jump up^ “About Solar Decathlon” . US Department of Energy Solar Decathlon . National Renewable Energy Laboratory . Archived from the original on January 27, 2013 . Retrieved January 27, 2013 .
  14. Jump up^ “Highlights from Solar Decathlon 2013” . Solar Decathlon. February 4, 2014 . Retrieved March 26, 2015 .
  15. Jump up^ “2010 Honor Award: A Salute to Civic Innovators” . National Building Museum . 2010 . Retrieved March 26, 2015 .
  16. Jump up^ “DOE Solar Decathlon: News Blog” Blog Archive “Georgia Institute of Technology Withdraws From Solar Decathlon 2017” . . Retrieved 2017-10-11 .
  17. Jump up^ “Solar Decathlon: Washington State: Washington State University” . . Retrieved 2017-10-11 .
  18. Jump up^ “West Virginia University Withdraws from Solar Decathlon 2017” . . Solar Decathlon. May 4, 2017 . Retrieved August 28, 2017 .
  19. Jump up^ “Solar Decathlon 2013: New Teams! New Location!” . press release . US Department of Energy. 2012-01-26.
  20. Jump up^ “DOE Solar Decathlon Announces 2013 Teams and Location” .
  21. Jump up^ “AZ State / New Mexico” .
  22. Jump up^ “AIR House” .
  23. Jump up^ “Tidewater Virginia” .
  24. Jump up^ “Middlebury College” .
  25. Jump up^ “Solar House Team, Missouri S & T” .
  26. Jump up^ “Norwich forges its own path at Solar Decathlon” .
  27. Jump up^ “Team Ontario” .
  28. Jump up^ “Radiant House” .
  29. Jump up^ “ Home” .
  30. Jump up^ “Team Stanford” .
  31. Jump up^ “EcoHabit, Stevens Solar Decathlon 2013” .
  32. Jump up^ “Harvest – Team Capitol DC” .
  33. Jump up^ “Urban Eden” .
  34. Jump up^ “UTEP / College of Engineering” .
  35. Jump up^ “Team Alberta” .
  36. Jump up^ “The Phoenix House” .
  37. Jump up^ “University of Nevada Las Vegas” .
  38. Jump up^ “fluxHome” .
  40. Jump up^ “Virginia West University Solar Decathlon Team” .
  41. Jump up^ “Energy Department Selects Student Teams to Compete in 2009 Solar Decathlon” . press release . US Department of Energy. 2008-01-24.
  42. Jump up^ “2009 Solar Decathlon contact list” .

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