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Denver, Colorado

Solar Decathlon News Blog

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon News Blog provides regular updates about Solar Decathlon news and events. Learn what's happening now, and let us know what you think by leaving a comment.

Energy Department Announces Denver as Next Location for Solar Decathlon Competition in 2017

March 11, 2016

By Solar Decathlon

At an event today in Denver, Colorado, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Under Secretary for Science and Energy, Dr. Franklin Orr, joined Mayor Michael Hancock to announce Denver as the host city for the next U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon competition in the fall of 2017.

Dr. Orr revealed that Denver won the bid to host this biennial event, in which student teams compete to design, build, and operate cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive solar-powered houses. The teams from across the country and around the world will be competing for $2 million in prize money.

In the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2017, 16 teams will compete in 10 contests, ranging from architecture and engineering to home appliance performance. The winner of the competition is the team that best blends aesthetics and modern conveniences with maximum energy production and optimal efficiency. Watch highlights of the 2015 event here.

“As one of the top 10 metro areas for solar installations and sunny days, Denver is a great choice to host the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon,” said DOE Under Secretary Orr. “This competition gives students a unique opportunity to take real action on climate change and shape our sustainable future by encouraging the kind of innovation we’ll need to meet our nation’s clean energy goals. I congratulate Denver on becoming our next Solar Decathlon host city, and I wish the participating students the best of luck as they prepare for next year’s competition.”

The competition is planned to be staged near a new development close to Denver International Airport. The area around the 61st and Peña Commuter Rail Station is positioned to become a national model for sustainable, transit-oriented, greenfield development that can enhance the region’s overall economic competitiveness. It will do so by linking employment opportunities with a wide range of housing choices through increased transportation options and building value in existing and new neighborhoods along the East Corridor.

“Denver is proud to work with the U.S. Department of Energy to bring this fun and engaging academic competition to our city,” said Mayor Michael B. Hancock. “This opportunity not only highlights the Denver metro area’s leadership in energy efficiency but allows us to spotlight our burgeoning solar energy industry.”

Over the next 18 months, the competing teams will raise funds; design and build their 800-square foot, 100-percent solar-powered houses; and then transport their houses to the Denver competition site.

The teams are strongly interdisciplinary: drawing together students of architecture, engineering, computer science, marketing, and other disciplines to carry out their projects.

In addition to the site announcement, DOE announced Energetics Incorporated of Columbia, Maryland, as the new program administrator. Energetics will organize, manage, and conduct the competition. It will also help support the department’s commitment to improving the nation’s science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education efforts.

For the first time in the competition’s history, teams will compete for $2 million in prize money. Each team that brings an eligible house to the competition will receive prize money of at least $100,000 to help with construction and transportation expenses. The top-place finishers will receive more. For example, first place will receive $300,000, second place $225,000, and third-place $150,000.

The solar-powered houses developed by the teams will represent a diverse range of design approaches and building technologies. They will cater to a variety of target markets and geographic locations, climates and regions, including urban, suburban, and rural settings.

In the fall of 2017, the competing student teams will showcase their solar-powered houses at the competition site to the public, providing free tours of renewable energy systems and energy-efficient technologies, products, and appliances helping homeowners nationwide save money by saving energy. On average, the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon draws about 60,000 visitors per competition, including more than 500 middle school students who attend the showcase event through scheduled field trips. The Orange County Great Park, located between Los Angeles and San Diego, California, hosted both the 2013 and 2015 competitions. Previous competitions were held in Washington, D.C.

The colleges and universities competing in Solar Decathlon 2017 are:

  • École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (Lausanne, Switzerland)
  • Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Daytona State College (Daytona Beach, Florida)
  • Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, Georgia)
  • HU University of Applied Science Utrecht (Utrecht, Netherlands)
  • Missouri University of Science and Technology (Rolla, Missouri)
  • Northwestern University (Evanston, Illinois)
  • Rice University (Houston, Texas)
  • Syracuse University (Syracuse, New York)
  • University of Alabama at Birmingham (Birmingham, Alabama)
  • University of California at Berkeley (Berkeley, California)
  • University of California, Davis (Davis, California)
  • University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
  • University of Nevada, Las Vegas (Las Vegas, Nevada)
  • Washington State University (Pullman, Washington)
  • Washington University (St. Louis, Missouri)
  • West Virginia University (Morgantown, West Virginia).

The 16 teams include eight returning teams and eight new teams. Learn more about the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2017 at http://www.solardecathlon.gov/.

Energy Department Announces 16 Collegiate Teams To Compete in Solar Decathlon 2017

January 20, 2016

Solar Decathlon

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced the 16 collegiate teams selected to participate in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2017. The teams, from colleges and universities across the United States and around the world, will now begin the nearly two-year process of building solar-powered houses that are affordable, innovative, and highly energy-efficient.

“President Obama’s all-of-the-above energy strategy aims to create a safer and more sustainable planet while ensuring American students and workers have the skills they need for the challenging jobs of today and tomorrow,” said DOE’s Solar Decathlon director, Richard King. “The Solar Decathlon competition supports the department’s commitment to improving the nation’s science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education efforts and to building a more knowledge-intensive workforce.”

Over the coming months, the 16 Solar Decathlon teams will design, construct, and test their houses before reassembling them at the Solar Decathlon 2017 competition site, which will be announced soon. In the Solar Decathlon, teams compete in 10 contests—ranging from architecture and engineering to home appliance performance—while gaining valuable hands-on experience in clean energy design. The winner of the competition will be the team that best blends affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency. For the first time in the competition’s history, the Solar Decathlon 2017 teams will be competing for $2 million in prize money.

In mid-2017, the student teams will showcase their solar-powered houses at the competition site to the public and provide free tours of renewable energy systems and energy-efficient technologies, products, and appliances that today are helping homeowners nationwide save money by saving energy. The solar-powered houses will represent a diverse range of design approaches; building technologies; target markets; and geographic locations, climates, and regions, including urban, suburban, and rural settings.

The following teams have been selected to compete in Solar Decathlon 2017:

  • École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (Lausanne, Switzerland)
  • Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Daytona State College (Daytona Beach, Florida)
  • Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, Georgia)
  • HU University of Applied Science Utrecht (Utrecht, Netherlands)
  • Missouri University of Science and Technology (Rolla, Missouri)
  • Northwestern University (Evanston, Illinois)
  • Rice University (Houston, Texas)
  • Syracuse University (Syracuse, New York)
  • University of Alabama at Birmingham (Birmingham, Alabama)
  • University of California at Berkeley (Berkeley, California)
  • University of California, Davis (Davis, California)
  • University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
  • University of Nevada, Las Vegas (Las Vegas, Nevada)
  • Washington State University (Pullman, Washington)
  • Washington University (St. Louis, Missouri)
  • West Virginia University (Morgantown, West Virginia).

The 16 teams include eight returning teams and eight new teams.

Shine On!

October 18, 2015

By Richard King

When I first met the teams onsite three weeks ago I said it was their time to shine. And they did.  The decathletes shined so brightly they turned into stars!

Decathletes are not the type to skate through life. We have seen them in action and now have higher expectations for their continued leadership—leadership qualities our nation needs.

Solar Decathlon 2015 decathletes learned how to design and build sustainably from their faculty and mentors. They used their creativity to push us further into the future. And the power of their leadership is how they communicated to the country and the world how to live sustainably. They are students who teach. What an amazing benefit to themselves and mankind. They are totally awesome!

Photo of crowds of people within a village of solar-powered houses.

Thank you to the thousands of people who visited the Solar Decathlon 2015 village to support the student teams and tour their innovative houses. (Credit: Thomas Kelsey/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon)

As the seventh U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon comes to a close, I am so grateful to everyone who made it a success.

Thank you to all the students and faculty who worked tirelessly to design, build, and showcase the houses.

Thank you to all the many sponsors who supported the teams and the competition.

Thank you to all the volunteers who gave their time and helped make our visitors feel special.

Thank you to the City of Irvine who made us feel at home—and to the ICTV crew whose daily videos made the competition come alive.

To the thousands of people who visited the Solar Decathlon village to support the teams and tour their innovative houses, thank you. Your delighted faces over the past two weeks gave us priceless energy!

And to our staff, who are the best, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Collectively, all of you made the Solar Decathlon 2015 a success. Thank you. Here’s to a bright future for all of us!

Richard King is director of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon.

Stevens Wins Solar Decathlon 2015

October 17, 2015

By Carol Laurie

Stevens Institute of Technology won top honors overall at the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2015 by designing, building, and operating the most cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive solar powered house.

University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, took second place followed by California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, in third place.

Stevens’ win comes as no surprise to followers of the competition, as the team took first place in four of five juried contests and maintained the lead position in the competition over the last several days. Stevens Institute of Technology previously competed in Solar Decathlon 2011 and Solar Decathlon 2013.

Stevens Institute of Technology team members celebrate their overall 1st place victory at the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2015, October 17, 2015 at the Orange County Great Park, Irvine, California  (Credit: Thomas Kelsey/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon)

Stevens Institute of Technology team members celebrate their overall first-place victory at the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2015. (Credit: Thomas Kelsey/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon)

At today’s awards ceremony, Energy Department Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Dr. David Danielson congratulated all decathletes on their accomplishments during the 2015 competition.

“On behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy, thank you to each inspiring student competitor,” said Danielson. “Your hard work makes this unique competition possible. The homes you built demonstrate how affordable, renewable, and energy-saving products available today can cut energy bills, reduce pollution, and protect our climate. You have shown the skills and dedication necessary to advance renewable energy and energy efficiency throughout our economy in the decades to come.”

Announcement of the overall winners followed exciting results of the Engineering Contest, in which Stevens took first place with a score of 93 of 100 possible points. Close behind with 92 points for second place was the hometown favorite Team Orange County (University of California, Irvine; Chapman University; Irvine Valley College; and Saddleback College). Texas/Germany (The University of Texas at Austin and Technische Universitaet Muenchen) took third place with 91 points.

Full details about these results, scores, and standings are available here.

Come check out the winning houses for yourself! Tomorrow is the final day of public exhibit here at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, California. The Solar Decathlon village is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. today and Sunday.

Carol Laurie is the communications manager for the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon.

Stevens Leads After Taking First in Three of Four Juried Contests

October 16, 2015

By Carol Laurie

At the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2015, Stevens Institute of Technology holds the lead after placing first in Market Appeal, Architecture, and Communications.

Stevens’ SURE HOUSE, a sustainable and resilient house for shore residents vulnerable to extreme weather conditions that could cause flooding and blackouts, earned 96 points to win the Architecture Contest.

“The Stevens design stacks up very favorably against many homes designed by seasoned architectural teams, and in fact outstrips the vast majority of U.S. houses when it comes to energy performance,” said Architecture Contest juror Ann Edminster, a leading international expert on green homes and chair of the Green Building Task Force for the Commission for Environmental Cooperation of North America. “The love of community that drove this design inspired a highly effective collaboration, in turn giving rise to an exceptionally well-integrated final product that will benefit both the occupants and their larger community.”

Photo of a group of people cheering.

Stevens Institute of Technology celebrates after winning the Communications Contest at the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2015. (Credit: Thomas Kelsey/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon)

The Solar Decathlon involves 10 contests – each worth 100 points – for a possible competition total of 1,000 points.

Other juried contest results announced over the last two days include:

Affordability – The University of California, Davis, and Mass/Central America (Western New England University, Universidad Tecnológica de Panamá, and Universidad Tecnológica Centroamericana) tied for first place and earned the full 100 points by constructing houses estimated to cost $249,312 and $120,282, respectively. Texas/Germany (The University of Texas at Austin and Technische Universitaet Muenchen) earned second place with 98.16 points for their house estimated to cost $268,399. Third place went to the State University of New York at Alfred College of Technology and Alfred University with 98.14 points for its house estimated to cost $268,637.

Market Appeal – California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, took second place with 93 points for its house designed for coastal California, and Clemson University took third place with 96 points for its Indigo Pine house, which assembles like a jigsaw puzzle without the use of power tools.

Architecture – Clemson University claimed second place with 95 points, and California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, California, took third place with 94 points.

Communications – Clemson University finished second with 90 points, followed by the University of Buffalo, the State University of New York, in third place with 89 points.

Full details about these results, scores, and standings are available here.

Tomorrow is the big day! Results from the Engineering Contest and the overall winner of the Solar Decathlon will be announced at 9:45 a.m. PDT by Energy Department Assistant Secretary of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Dr. David Danielson.

Carol Laurie is the communications manager for the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon.

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