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Denver, Colorado
October 5-15, 2017

About Solar Decathlon

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon is a collegiate competition of 10 contests that challenge student teams to design and build full-size, solar-powered houses. The winner of the competition is the team that best blends design excellence and smart energy production with innovation, market potential, and energy and water efficiency.

Solar Decathlon is more than a competition. It’s an intensive learning experience for consumers and homeowners as they experience the latest technologies and materials in energy-efficient design, clean energy technologies, smart home solutions, water conservation measures, electric vehicles, and sustainable buildings.

The Solar Decathlon provides a hands-on experience and unique training that prepares the competing students to enter the clean energy workforce. This international competition has been a driving force in raising awareness about clean energy since its inception in 2002. Technologies and solutions used in Solar Decathlon homes have advanced the residential building industry both in the United States and abroad. A report produced by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory details some of these technologies.

The first Solar Decathlon was held in 2002; the competition has since occurred biennially in 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, and 2015. The next Solar Decathlon is planned for 2017 in Denver, Colorado.


One of the U.S. Department of Energy's most successful outreach efforts, the Solar Decathlon’s goals are to:

  • Provide participating students with unique training that prepares them for the clean energy workforce
  • Educate students and the public about the latest technologies and materials in energy-efficient design, clean energy technologies, smart home solutions, water conservation measures, electric vehicles and sustainable buildings
  • Demonstrate to the public the comfort and savings of homes that combine energy-efficient construction, design, and appliances with onsite renewable energy production.


Since 2002, the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon has:

  • Involved 141 collegiate teams, which pursued a multidisciplinary approach to study the requirements for designing and building energy-efficient, solar-powered houses
  • Established a worldwide reputation as a successful educational program and workforce development opportunity for thousands of students
  • Positively impacted more than 18,000 collegiate participants
  • Expanded to Europe, China, Latin America, and the Middle East to involve an additional 141 teams and nearly 18,000 participants through Solar Decathlon Europe 2010 and 2012 (Madrid, Spain), Solar Decathlon Europe 2014 (Versailles, France), Solar Decathlon China 2013 (Datong) and 2017 (Dezhou), Solar Decathlon Latin America and Caribbean 2015 (Santiago de Cali, Colombia), and Solar Decathlon Middle East 2018 (Dubai, United Arab Emirates). A new Solar Decathlon Africa is being planned for 2019 in Morocco, but teams have not yet been selected.
  • Educated the public about the benefits, affordability, and availability of clean energy solutions by generating widespread media coverage and harnessing digital tools to reach millions of people.