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Solar Decathlon Blog - Design Challenge

Below you will find Solar Decathlon news from the Design Challenge archive, sorted by date.

Department of Energy Kicks Off Solar Decathlon Competition Event and Announces Richard King Award Winners

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Today, Acting Assistant Secretary of Energy for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Kelly Speakes-Backman officially kicked off the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon® Competition Event during the Solar Decathlon Opening Celebration.

Students from 72 teams, representing 66 collegiate institutions and 12 countries, are competing for top prizes in the 2020 Build Challenge and 2021 Design Challenge during the Competition Event.

“I was deeply inspired by the ingenuity and perseverance of our Solar Decathlon teams, who have designed and constructed buildings that embody the spirit of innovation we need for a clean energy future,” said Acting Assistant Secretary Speakes-Backman. “These homes are a testament to the incredible skill and resolve of the next generation of building professionals, who share a sense of urgency in tackling the climate crisis and building more sustainable communities.” (more…)

Save the Date for the Solar Decathlon Competition Event; Virtual Format Opens Participation to Broader Audience

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Save the Date for the Solar Decathlon Competition Event; Virtual Format Opens Participation to Broader Audience

Mark your calendars! The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon® will host its rescheduled 2020 Build Challenge and 2021 Design Challenge competition events virtually, from Thursday, April 15 to Sunday, April 18, 2021. This virtual event will feature dynamic team presentations, interactive sessions, and networking opportunities for all collegiate teams in the United States and around the world.

The Build Challenge competition event was previously scheduled to be on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., in summer of 2020. The annual Design Challenge competition event is traditionally hosted by DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, in Golden, Colorado.

“While we will miss celebrating the excitement and passion in person, we want to ensure the teams are still given an opportunity to complete this unparalleled and valuable experience,” said Holly Jamesen Carr, director of Solar Decathlon for the Building Technologies Office. “We have seen how this competition has positively impacted the trajectory of many careers and elevated the importance of building efficiency.”

Read more

Zach Berzolla is #SDLivingtheDream:
Using a Multidisciplinary Approach for Effective Building Design

Monday, December 14, 2020

For this edition of #SDLivingtheDream we learn about Zach Berzolla, a 2018 Middlebury College team alumnus. He shares with us the work he is doing at MIT, along with key concepts that he has learned for successful building design, from Solar Decathlon. How about that for a doer designer!

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Name: Zach Berzolla

Year participated in Solar Decathlon: 2018 Design Challenge

University team: Middlebury College

 Current organization / employer: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sustainable Design Lab

Current role: Research Assistant/ SMBT Student

How did participation in the Solar Decathlon affect the trajectory of your career?

I knew I was interested in zero energy buildings, but the Solar Decathlon cemented for me that I wanted to make this field my career. Furthermore,  as I started working with the multidisciplinary team I assembled for the Race to Zero, I realized the importance of an integrated design process. This was one of the reasons I ended up at the MIT Sustainable Design Lab for my master’s; the lab is multi-disciplinary and focused on tools and analyses that architects, engineers, and policy-makers can all understand.

 Describe a work outcome, building project or other achievement you are most proud of and how (if) it relates to your experience with Solar Decathlon.

At MIT, I have been working with other members of my lab to make urban building energy modeling tools accessible to every city so that they can make physics-backed decisions on how to meet their emissions reduction goals. Through Solar Decathlon trainings and collaborations, I learned the applied building physics that underlie every building upgrade strategy we propose to meet these emissions reduction goals.

Zach at VERMOD Homes, a project that he sought out, which was inspired by his Solar Decathlon work. He documented improvements to the factory process for their zero-energy manufactured homes.

Brett Horin is #SDLivingtheDream:
Seeing the Impacts in the Real World

Monday, November 16, 2020

This month in our #SDLivingtheDream series, you’ll meet Brett Horin, who competed with Illinois Tech in the 2018 Design Challenge and who has gone on to work in energy modeling in the architecture industry, fueled by his experience in the Solar Decathlon.

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Name: Brett Horin

Year participated in Solar Decathlon: 2018

University team: Illinois Institute of Technology

Current organization / employer: Lamar Johnson Collaborative/Clayco

Current role: Energy Modeler

(more…)

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

Tuesday, 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

(more…)

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

Monday, 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

(more…)

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

Monday, 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…)

Design Challenge Weekend Will Be a Completely Virtual Event

Thursday, 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.

(more…)

#SDLivingTheDream,
Teresa Hamm Modley:
Designing, Building and Beyond

Monday, March 9, 2020

We’re continuing our series, #SDLivingTheDream, highlighting alumni of both the Build Challenge and Design Challenge and how their time in the competition 

has shaped their careers and their lives. This month, it’s an alum of *both* Challenges.

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Name: Teresa Hamm Modley

Year participated in Solar Decathlon:

  1. 2011 Solar Decathlon (as a team partner for the Empowerhouse, I worked for Habitat for Humanity of DC)
  2. 2017-2018 Race to Zero, Elementary School Division (more…)

Solar Decathlon Design Challenge Finalist Teams Announced; Countdown Begins

Monday, March 2, 2020

Six weeks and counting! This year’s finalist teams for the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon® Design Challenge are vying to be one of two Grand Winners during the Design Challenge Weekend, April 17-19, 2020, at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado.

Students from 48 teams representing 36 collegiate institutions have taken a big step in advancing their education and careers by being selected as members of finalist teams.

(more…)

#SDLivingTheDream,
Bennett Doherty:
Solar Decathlon Introduced Me to This Field

Monday, February 10, 2020

We’re continuing our series, #SDLivingTheDream, highlighting alumni of both the Build Challenge and Design Challenge and how their time in the competition has shaped their careers and their lives.

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Name: Bennett Doherty

Year participated in Solar Decathlon: 2018 Design Challenge

University team: Middlebury College

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

Current role: Research Engineer in the Commercial Buildings Group

(more…)

Check Out What’s New with Solar Decathlon!

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Want to create buildings that help address the most pressing needs of our time? Love the thrill of competing with top students across the country and around the world? If so, the U.S Department of Energy Solar Decathlon® is for you!

(more…)

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