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Solar Decathlon Blog

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon Blog provides regular updates about Solar Decathlon news and events.

Meet Celcius: A Sustainable Home that Reflects the Students Who Built It

October 23, 2020

Three years ago, a group of students from the Netherlands focused on the concept of circularity in their entry to the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon® competition. Their entry, Selficient, showcased the benefits of a home designed to be endlessly recyclable, growing and reconfiguring to adapt to the homeowners’ needs at every stage in their lives. Selficient earned second place in the Market Potential Contest and seventh place overall.

Fast-forward to 2020. A new team from Hogeschool Utrecht (HU) University of Applied Science in the Netherlands is competing in the Solar Decathlon 2020 Build Challenge. Inspired by HU’s 2017 team, the new Netherlands team is further developing the concept of a house that has “Circular, Eye-opening, Limitless, Community, Innovative, Unconventional and Self-sufficient” (CELCIUS) as its building blocks. Together, Team Celcius is building a next-generation home that reflects these core values.

Computer image of a rectangular home that has solar panels on the roof, brown wooden exterior paneling, and floor-to-ceiling windows interspersed with exterior living walls.

This computer rendering of the Celcius house represents the base unit that the HU team is building to compete in Solar Decathlon 2020. Because every component is interchangeable, every room scalable, and every pipeline movable, a target customer can begin living in this relatively simple version of the home and upgrade it over time.

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David Gavin is #SDLivingtheDream:
Designing for a Cause!

October 19, 2020

In this edition of our #SDLivingtheDream series, we introduce you to David Gavin, a Team UMD Solar Decathlon alumnus who focuses on sustainable design in his everyday work. Read on to find out how David is using his building-design skills to help domestic violence victims.

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Name: David Gavin

Year participated in Solar Decathlon:  2011

University team: University of Maryland

Current organization/employer: Quinn Evans Architects

Current role: Architect / Associate / Sustainability Leadership Team

Gavin is an architect at Quinn Evans and a certified Passive House consultant, advising clients on energy-efficient building design.

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Register for BTO’s Webinars on Life-Cycle Impacts of Buildings

October 5, 2020

This fall, DOE’s Building Technologies Office will host a series of webinars that explore the frameworks and techniques researchers use to evaluate the energy use of buildings over their entire lifespans, from construction to operation to eventual destruction. The Life-Cycle Energy & Related Impacts of Buildings Webinar Series will give the public, national lab researchers, academics, and all members of the buildings industry a special opportunity to hear from leading experts who work at the cutting-edge of lifecycle analysis.

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Mentoring 101: How to Teach College Students What Textbooks Can’t

September 29, 2020

Most colleges don’t offer a course that can teach you how to navigate the real world. Sure, classroom learning provides students with a solid technical foundation in their chosen areas of study, but essential professional skills like negotiation, compromise, and flexibility aren’t covered in most textbooks. For the answers to life’s most challenging questions, you need a mentor.

If there were degrees in Real Life Experience, a group of more than 30 students from Weber State University would earn top honors. These students managed to design and build a six-bedroom, 2,450 square foot home that is powered entirely by the sun and can go off grid for three days—or longer—as part of their Solar Decathlon 2020 senior project.

Jeremy Farner, an associate professor of building design and construction at Weber State University, served as the team’s faculty advisor on the project. Now that he has successfully advised two Solar Decathlon Design Challenge competitions and Weber State’s most recent Build Challenge, there is no doubt he has what it takes to mentor the next generation of green building professionals.

Several students from the WSU build team

Jeremy Farner, fourth from right, stands with students on the Solar Decathlon 2020 Build project team representing the Building Design & Construction, Interior Design, and Construction Management programs in February 2020. Photo by Weber State University

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Weber State University Team Profile

September 21, 2020

The Net Zero Wildcats of Weber State University, hailing from Ogden, Utah, join us for our first TEAM PROFILE of the 2020 Solar Decathlon! Thanks for taking the time, folks, so let’s get right to the questions.

First, with a team name like that, I have to ask – do you have a mascot?
We do–Waldo the Wildcat!

We have to see a picture of this mascot…
Now, is this your first time participating in the Solar Decathlon?
This is the first time we have participated in the Solar Decathlon Build Challenge. We have previously competed twice in the Race to Zero competition [now called Solar Decathlon Design Challenge].

How many team members do you have right now?
We have had as many as 50 students work on the project, but the current team is comprised of 12 students.

A group photo of the WEBER STATE UNIVERSITY More »

Sol Haroon is #SDLivingtheDream:
Leading the Future Through Building-Design Efficiency and Renewable Energy Education!

September 15, 2020

Sol completed his BASc (Applied Science) at the University of Waterloo in Ontario and his MS at the Georgia Institute of Technology; he is currently pursuing (part-time) his MBA at the Scheller College of Business at Georgia Tech.

In the latest edition of our #SDLivingtheDream series, we introduce Sol Haroon. An alumnus of the 2018 Design Challenge, Sol pushes boundaries in the renewable energy and building design projects he leads, or contributes to as an engineer. Read on to find out more about Sol’s role in creating the largest Living Building in the Southeast!

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Name: Sol Haroon

Year participated in Solar Decathlon: 2018 Design Challenge

University team: Georgia Institute of Technology

Current organization / employer: United Renewables, also pursuing an MBA at Georgia Institute of Technology

Current role: Lead Engineer/Consulting Instructor

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Sean Copeland is #SDLivingtheDream:
Revolutionizing Energy-Efficient Commercial Building Through Design!

August 17, 2020

Meet 2017-2018 Design Challenge alumnus Sean Copeland. From Penn State to Solar Decathlon, this two-time SD veteran has always worked with a passion for building design and environmental preservation. With his current position at Arup, he is able to intersect the two through working on carbon-free building construction in Massachusetts. Learn more about how Sean puts his skills to the test toward the green-building industry.

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Name: Sean Copeland

Year participated in Solar Decathlon: 2017 and 2018

University team: Penn State University (2017 — Full Circle, 2018 — Ripple)

Current organization / employer: Arup

Current role: Graduate Sustainability Consultant

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Farah Naz Ahmad is #SDLivingTheDream:
Building Science Skills — and Communications, too!

July 13, 2020

For the latest in our #SDLivingTheDream series, you’ll meet a 2011 Build Challenge team member whose career has explored several angles of energy-efficient building: lighting retrofits, energy codes, and technical building standards for city government. And if you’ve ever done a search for Solar Decathlon content on social media, you’ve probably seen Farah’s posts — she is one of our biggest cheerleaders!

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Name:  Farah Naz Ahmad

Year participated in Solar Decathlon:  2011

University team: The City College of New York (Team New York)

Current organization / employer:  New York City School Construction Authority

Current role:  Architect, Sustainable Design

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Apply for Solar Decathlon’s 2021 Design Challenge; Plan for 2023 Build Challenge!

July 9, 2020

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon® is ready to see your innovative and creative building designs! Collegiate institutions may now apply for the 2021 Design Challenge. Applications are due by October 20, 2020. The 2021 Design Challenge Rules may be found in the newly released Solar Decathlon Competition Guide.

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Kyle Macht is #SDLivingTheDream:
Learning Evolves to Leadership

June 15, 2020

In this installment of our special series, #SDLivingTheDream, we hear from a self-described jack of all trades who evolved into a true leader with the help of experiences in the Solar Decathlon.

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Name:  Kyle Macht

Years participated in Solar Decathlon:

2007: core team member

2009: team leader

2011: rules inspector

University team:  Penn State

Current organization / employer:   Macht Architecture

Current role:  Principal

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Department of Energy Announces Postponement of Solar Decathlon 2020 Summer Events and Webinar on May 27

May 22, 2020

The grand winner trophies

Gain a once-in-a-lifetime experience by applying for the next Solar Decathlon Design Challenge and Build Challenge. Photo by Vern Slocum/NREL.

Today, the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon® postponed its 2020 Solar Decathlon Build Challenge from June 2020 to April 16-18, 2021. The event, originally scheduled to be part of the 2020 Smithsonian Folklife Festival, will move from the National Mall in Washington, D.C., to the Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado, where it will coincide with the Solar Decathlon 2021 Design Challenge competition. The 2022 Build Challenge will take place in 2023. More »

Amanda Kirkeby is #SDLivingTheDream:
From Solar Decathlon student team to event organizing team

May 18, 2020

Our #SDLivingTheDream series continues with a recent alum from the Design Challenge who actually went on to work behind the scenes with the event’s staff, including posting to our social media channels for last month’s completely virtual event.

Amanda Kirkeby working in the lab at NREL on Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) research, an alternative method of power distribution in buildings.

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Name: Amanda Kirkeby

Year participated in Solar Decathlon: 2018 Design Challenge

University team: Middlebury Zero Energy School Team (Middlebury College)

Current organization / employer: National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

Current role: Post-graduate intern with the Applied Engineering group More »

#SDLivingTheDream,
Rodrigo Castro:
The Use of Energy Performance as a Design Input

April 22, 2020

A headshot of Rodrigo Castro

We’re continuing our special series to highlight alumni of both the Build Challenge and the Design Challenge of Solar Decathlon, and how their experiences with the event have shaped their careers and lives. This time on #SDLivingTheDream, it’s Rodrigo Castro.

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Name: Rodrigo Castro, PhD

Year participated in Solar Decathlon: 2011

University team: Team Florida (University of Florida)

Current organization / employer: Bionova Ltd.

Current role: Senior LCA Expert

 

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Solar Decathlon Design Challenge Winners Showcase Efficient, Affordable, Innovative Buildings in Virtual Event

April 20, 2020

For the first time, the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon® Design Challenge recognized and awarded two Grand Winners – one from the residential division and one from the commercial building division. The 2020 Design Challenge culminated in a virtual event, April 17-19, 2020.

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Design Challenge Weekend Will Be a Completely Virtual Event

March 19, 2020

Due to the recent health concerns related to the coronavirus (COVID-19), Design Challenge Weekend (April 17–19) will be transitioned to a completely virtual event with a similar schedule. There will be no in-person activities at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory or the adjacent Denver West Marriott hotel.

The revised agenda for the virtual Design Challenge Weekend and an addendum to the Competition Rules outlining changes due to the virtual nature of the event have been posted.

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