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About Solar Decathlon

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon is a collegiate competition, comprising 10 contests, that challenges student teams to design and build highly efficient and innovative buildings powered by renewable energy. The winners will be those teams that best blend design architectural and engineering excellence with innovation, market potential, building efficiency, and smart energy production.

The combined competition features two tracks, the Design Challenge and the Build Challenge. 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.

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 high-performance buildings.

The first Solar Decathlon was held in 2002; the competition occurred biennially in 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015, and 2017. The next Solar Decathlon is planned for 2019-2020.

Purpose

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, electric vehicles, and high-performance buildings.
  • Demonstrate to the public the comfort and savings of homes that combine energy-efficient construction, home systems, appliances and innovative design with onsite renewable energy production.

Impact

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

  • Involved more than 150 collegiate teams, which pursued a multidisciplinary approach to study the requirements for designing and building energy-efficient houses powered by renewable energy.
  • 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, Africa, and the Middle East to involve an additional 160 teams and nearly 19,000 participants through Solar Decathlon Europe 2010 and 2012 (Madrid, Spain), Solar Decathlon Europe 2014 (Versailles, France), Solar Decathlon China 2013 (Datong) and 2018 (Dezhou), Solar Decathlon Latin America and Caribbean 2015 (Santiago de Cali, Colombia), and Solar Decathlon Middle East 2018 (Dubai, United Arab Emirates). In 2019, three Solar Decathlon competitions will take place: Solar Decathlon Europe (Szentendre, Hungary) in July, Latin America and the Caribbean (Columbia) in December, and Solar Decathlon (Morocco) in September.
  • 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.