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Design Challenge

Registration for the 2025 Design Challenge will open in July 2024! Sign up for our newsletter to be notified and join the Kickoff Webinar on September 10 to learn more.

What is the Design Challenge?

The Design Challenge is an annual collegiate competition where interdisciplinary teams create sustainable, high-performance building designs that address real-world issues such as existing building retrofits, community impacts, affordability, and resilience.

Teams collaborate on a residential or commercial design project for one or two academic semesters, with the competition culminating each April at the Solar Decathlon Competition Event.

Photo of several students looking at a architectural model.

The Competition Event provides an opportunity for teams to present their designs to expert jurors, network and build connections with industry professionals, and share ideas with other Decathletes from around the world.

Winning teams are recognized with awards on an international stage and winning design projects are shared through Solar Decathlon and U.S. Department of Energy channels.

2025 marks the 12th edition of the Design Challenge, which has helped create a global community of current and future professionals dedicated to tackling the most complex problems in the built environment.

Photo of a group of students at a past solar decathlon event.

Why compete in the Design Challenge?

  • Collegiate institutions are recognized as leaders who are producing career-ready professionals with real-world skills. 
  • Students develop market-ready design skills, form lasting connections with leading industry professionals, and join the growing global network of Solar Decathlete alumni.
  • Faculty prepare students to implement creative solutions in the buildings industry and build connections with other faculty members and collegiate programs from around the world.
  • Industry partners and sponsors gain international recognition and access to the best and brightest talent for their organization.
  • Alumni maintain strong connections to a global professional network and gain leadership skills through mentoring opportunities with current student teams.


Collegiate institutions can start preparing for the 2025 Design Challenge today! Complete details will be available in the 2025 Design Challenge Rules in July 2024.

  • July 2024: Registration opens, 2025 Design Challenge Rules released.
  • September 10, 2024: Kickoff webinar
  • October 23, 2024: Team Registration deadline
  • February 2025: Virtual Semifinal Competition Event
  • April 25-27, 2025: Final Competition Event with in-person and virtual options; hosted at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado.