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Frequently Asked Questions

These frequently asked questions provide an overview of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon.

In the summer of 2018, the U.S. Department of Energy announced the joining of its two student building design competitions into one Solar Decathlon competition. The combined competition will feature two tracks. The first is the Design Challenge, and the second is the Building Challenge with both design and build components. Each track challenges student teams to “push the envelope” and design the most high-performance, efficient, affordable, innovative buildings while leveraging opportunities to showcase student innovation and STEM education, and foster workforce development opportunities.

Learn more about the Design Challenge and the Build Challenge.

Teams from collegiate institutions apply and submit proposals for consideration. Applications are evaluated by a panel of engineers, scientists, and building experts. Teams are required to meet specific criteria. If you are interested in competing in a future Solar Decathlon, learn how to apply.

The deadline to submit applications has now passed.

The 10 contests for both the Design Challenge and Build Challenge are:

  • Energy Performance
  • Engineering
  • Financial Feasibility and Affordability
  • Resilience
  • Architecture
  • Operations
  • Market Potential
  • Comfort and Environmental Quality
  • Innovation
  • Presentation

Additional details are available in the Competition Guide.


Also see our separate FAQs sheet. If you have a question that is not answered here or elsewhere on the site, please contact us.