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How To Apply for the Solar Decathlon

Is your school or organization interested in participating in the next U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon? The Solar Decathlon Competition Guide is available! Register for a Challenge today!

Two Challenges, Ten Contests

This Solar Decathlon, which spans 2019 and 2020, gives teams the option to participate in one of two Challenges: the Design Challenge or the Build Challenge. Teams that enter the Design Challenge must select from six allowable building types to create their design. Teams that enter the Build Challenge must choose to compete with a “Local Build” house or with a transportable “National Showcase” house. Whether participating in the Design or Build Challenge, all teams are evaluated across 10 contests.

Design Challenge (Annual)

Teams that compete in the annual Solar Decathlon Design Challenge must create residential or commercial building designs over one or two semesters. Designs are evaluated on how well they meet the nation’s rapidly evolving demand for buildings that are innovative, cost-effective, quick to build, high-quality, resilient, grid-interactive, efficient, and locally responsive. The Design Challenge is similar to the previous Race to Zero Student Design Competition. Teams choose one of six building type “Divisions” in which to compete.

Build Challenge (Biennial)

Teams that compete in the Solar Decathlon Build Challenge must design and construct fully functional houses. Teams choose to compete in one of two “Divisions” – the National Showcase or the Local Build. In the National Showcase, teams will ship their houses to the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in June 2020 for display and operation on the National Mall. In the Local Build, teams will showcase their built houses in their communities and bring a smaller representative exhibit to the Smithsonian Folklife Festival.


DOE will host three upcoming Solar Decathlon webinars. The first one will provide an overview of the competition. The following two will discuss competition requirements and answer questions.

Kick Start Your Solar Decathlon Competition!
Date: August 22, 2018
Time: 1:00 - 2:30 p.m. ET

Solar Decathlon Design Challenge
Date: September 12, 2018
Time: 3:00 - 4:30 p.m. ET

Solar Decathlon Build Challenge
Date: September 13, 2018
Time: 3:00 - 4:30 p.m. ET

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