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Photo of Solar Decathlon Director Richard King being interviewed by a videographer.

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.

Solar Decathlon Director Welcomes 2015 Decathletes

April 7, 2014

By Richard King

To the new teams, welcome and thank you for accepting our challenge to design and build an energy-efficient, solar-powered house to compete in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2015. And congratulations on being selected!

The Solar Decathlon is a beneficial and rewarding competition. As a solar decathlete, you help create an economy fueled by clean energy technologies that save families and businesses money and reduce U.S. reliance on foreign oil. Your participation in the Solar Decathlon also benefits your career—and I know that one of the top concerns of students like you is finding employment after graduation.

I recently read an interesting article by Steve Mesler, a U.S. gold medalist from the 2010 Winter Olympics whose team won the four-man bobsled event. He writes how, after the Olympics, he realized he had few skills applicable to the working world.

“After a decade of singularly focused training to become the best in the world at my sport, I was left with ‘now what?’ Being strong and fast and able to use perfect push technique to move an object on the ice isn’t especially useful outside the Olympics. Unless a friend’s car is stuck in the snow. It’s scary to realize that the physical skills you have so carefully crafted don’t transfer to the real world.” 

Steve had to start over to find employment and renewed interest.

Not so for solar decathletes. We help ensure your passion does not go unrewarded. You will need to work hard. Refine your skills. Complement your academic coursework. And be creative, resourceful, and determined. Then you, too, can have fame and glory in an awesome competition. The difference is that you will have employers seek you out, making employment both a goal and a reward.

Better still, you’ll feel good knowing your hard work is helping others. That’s why your dedicated involvement is so important. You are not debating how to build a better world—you are showing how to do it. You know the quickest way to a better future is to design a cleaner, more sustainable way to live and then to demonstrate it. It is this combination of creativity and public education that makes the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon so powerful.

We’ll do all we can to help you succeed, and we are going to work hard to make the Solar Decathlon 2015 competition better than ever.

May the best team win!

Richard King, creator and director of the Solar Decathlon, works in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Building Technologies Office.

Mark Your Calendars: Solar Decathlon 2015 Dates Announced

April 2, 2014

By Solar Decathlon

Fans of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon, take note: Solar Decathlon 2015 will be held Oct. 8–18, 2015, at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, California.

The Solar Decathlon competition houses will be open to visitors from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily on eight days over two weekends:

  • Thursday, Oct. 8–Sunday, Oct. 11, 2015
  • Thursday, Oct. 15–Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015.

The remaining dates, the Solar Decathlon village will be closed for competition activities.

This is your opportunity to tour the highly efficient, solar-powered houses designed, built, and operated by the Solar Decathlon collegiate teams. Talk to the students, gather ideas to use in your own home, and learn about energy-saving features and products that can help you save money. Mark your calendars now, and start planning your visit today!

Solar Decathlon Expands Again: Solar Decathlon Latin America and Caribbean Announced

March 12, 2014

By Solar Decathlon

The Solar Decathlon is proud to announce the newest member of its global family: Solar Decathlon Latin America and Caribbean. On Monday, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman, Colombia Minister of Energy and Mines Amylkar Acosta, Mayor of Santiago de Calí Rodrigo Guerrero, and Director of Planning of Colombia Tatyana Orozco signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to collaborate on the development of Solar Decathlon Latin America and Caribbean.

“President Obama’s Climate Action Plan calls on the United States to work with other nations to lead the world to a cleaner, more prosperous future. By working together with partner nations like Colombia, we can increase global energy security and confront the challenges of a changing climate,” said Poneman. “Building on successful international Solar Decathlons in Europe and China, the U.S. Energy Department looks forward to Solar Decathlon Latin America and Caribbean—supporting a new generation of engineers, architects, and energy entrepreneurs in Latin America while driving clean energy innovation and sustainable development worldwide.”

Under the MOU signed today, the countries will exchange information regarding rules, scoring, judging, safety, and site and team selection for a Solar Decathlon Latin America and Caribbean event to take place in Santiago de Cali, Colombia, in December 2015. In addition to educating students, the competition is intended to encourage private sector participation in the energy sector and promote sustainable development and land use planning.

Photo of a group of people standing in meeting room around a table. They hold duplicate copies of an MOU. In the background is the U.S. Department of Energy seal. On the table are small American and Colombian flags.

An MOU between the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Planning Department, Ministry of Mining and Energy for the Republic of Colombia, and the Municipality of Santiago de Cali was signed Monday to establish collaboration toward Solar Decathlon Latin America and Caribbean.

“We consider the Solar Decathlon a unique opportunity to generate incentives among our Latin American and Caribbean students to use their innovative skills to design buildings that are energy-efficient and self-sufficient, contributing to national and regional sustainable growth,” said Acosta.

Since 2010, the Energy Department has helped launch four international Solar Decathlon competitions:  

The MOU signed Monday marks the first step toward a Solar Decathlon competition in Latin America.

Around the world, the Solar Decathlon challenges university teams to design and build affordable, innovative, and highly energy-efficient solar-powered houses.

The first U.S. Solar Decathlon was held in 2002, and the competition has since occurred every two years. The next U.S. competition will be held in Irvine, California, in fall 2015.

Solar Decathlon Announces Revised 2015 Team Lineup

March 12, 2014

By Solar Decathlon

U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon Director Richard King today announced that two teams selected to compete in Solar Decathlon 2015 have decided not to move forward in the competition.

Officials from Oregon Institute of Technology and Portland State University said in a letter to competition officials that Team Oregon made the difficult decision not to compete in 2015 in order to use its experience to strengthen the foundation for a future team.

Similarly, Team Michigan (Lansing Community College, Kendall College of Art and Design, and Ferris State University) decided not to participate.

“We wish the students from these teams well and hope they continue to pursue careers in clean energy fields,” said King. “The Solar Decathlon has established a worldwide reputation as a successful workforce development opportunity for thousands of students. Every aspect of participation—from applying for acceptance to designing energy-efficient, solar-powered houses to competing onsite at the Orange County Great Park—offers collegiate students a meaningful educational experience.”

King added that he’s excited about the 18 teams that are progressing in the competition and looks forward to seeing how each will rise to the challenge.

The updated Solar Decathlon 2015 team lineup is:

  • California Polytechnic State University
  • California State University, Sacramento
  • Clemson University
  • Crowder College and Drury University
  • Missouri University of Science and Technology
  • New York City College of Technology
  • Stanford University
  • State University of New York at Alfred College of Technology and Alfred University
  • Stevens Institute of Technology
  • University of Florida, National University of Singapore, and Santa Fe College
  • The University of Texas at Austin and Technische Universitaet Muenchen
  • University at Buffalo, The State University of New York
  • University of California, Davis
  • University of California, Irvine; Saddleback College; Chapman University; and Irvine Valley College
  • Vanderbilt University and Middle Tennessee State University
  • West Virginia University and University of Roma Tor Vergata
  • Western New England University, Universidad Tecnológica de Panamá, and Universidad Tecnológica Centroamericana
  • Yale University.

Energy Department Announces Solar Decathlon 2015 Collegiate Teams and Location

February 13, 2014

By Solar Decathlon

Today, the Energy Department announced the 20 collegiate teams selected to compete in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2015. It also announced that the competition will take place at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, California.

“The Solar Decathlon can be a positive, life-changing experience for participating students,” said Solar Decathlon Director Richard King. “In addition to developing leadership, team spirit, and problem-solving skills, this competition bridges formal education with hands-on experience that helps decathletes excel once they enter the workforce.”

The student teams include eight returning teams and 12 new teams. Four feature partners from international schools.

Congratulations go to:

  • California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
  • California State University, Sacramento
  • Clemson University
  • Crowder College and Drury University
  • Lansing Community College, Kendall College of Art and Design, and Ferris State University
  • Missouri University of Science and Technology
  • New York City College of Technology
  • Oregon Institute of Technology and Portland State University
  • Stanford University
  • State University of New York at Alfred College of Technology and Alfred University
  • Stevens Institute of Technology
  • University of Florida, National University of Singapore, and Santa Fe College
  • The University of Texas at Austin and Technische Universitaet Muenchen
  • University at Buffalo, The State University of New York
  • University of California, Davis
  • University of California, Irvine; Saddleback College; Chapman University; and Irvine Valley College
  • Vanderbilt University and Middle Tennessee State University
  • West Virginia University and University of Roma Tor Vergata
  • Western New England University, Universidad Tecnológica de Panamá, and Universidad Tecnológica Centroamericana
  • Yale University.

The Solar Decathlon 2015 teams now begin a two-year process to build solar-powered, highly energy-efficient houses that combine affordability, innovation, and design excellence. The teams will design, construct, and test their houses before reassembling them in fall 2015 at the competition site at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, California.

From 2002 through 2011, the National Mall in Washington, D.C., served as the venue for five successful Solar Decathlons. In 2013, the Energy Department extended the competition’s reach.  The Orange County Great Park, located between Los Angeles and San Diego in Irvine, California, was the West Coast location of Solar Decathlon 2013.

“We wish all of the Solar Decathlon 2015 teams the best of luck as we look forward to another incredible competition,” said King.

Watch U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman announce the teams and location live at the University of California, Irvine, at 4 p.m. EDT today.