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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.

Visit a Solar Decathlon Zero Energy Home Near You through April 18!

April 5, 2023

Visit a Solar Decathlon Zero Energy Home Near You through April 18!

Solar Decathlon participants in front of their house


Eleven collegiate teams competing in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon® 2023 Build Challenge are hosting community open houses for their zero energy homes through April 18.

The teams, located across the globe, have spent nearly two years designing and building full-size, high-performance, low-carbon, zero energy houses for the competition. These dwellings demonstrate creative solutions to real-world climate issues, as well as long-term durability for local environmental conditions.

Additionally, these homes are built in communities across the country and around the world so more people can see them.

Learn when, where you can visit

Solar Decathlon: Cementing Foundations in Decarbonization Careers

March 24, 2023

an aerial view of a building with solar panels on the roof, and the Legence and solar decathlon logo on the top.

Photo by Adobe Stock

headshot of Deborah CloutierBy Deborah Cloutier, Chief Sustainability Officer, Legence

The Solar Decathlon empowers thousands of talented students to take up careers in the clean economy, producing tangible benefits for numerous companies, including Legence.

In 2009, the Solar Decathlon is where three soon-to-be Legence employees—Ben Hobbs, Drew Roberts, and Johnathan Stewart—got their impressive start in net-zero energy design, setting the foundation for their lifelong work at CMTA, a Legence company. Throughout the competition, they designed and built the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems of a net-zero energy-efficient house.

More »

Fifty-Seven Teams Advance to Solar Decathlon 2023 Design Challenge Final

February 27, 2023

Renderings from a selection of Solar Decathlon 2023 Design Challenge finalist teams.

Renderings from a selection of Solar Decathlon 2023 Design Challenge finalist teams.
Graphic by NREL

Fifty-seven teams from 63 collegiate institutions have earned a spot in the final stage of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon® 2023 Design Challenge.

“Solar Decathlon has pioneered energy efficient building designs for more than two decades; this year’s finalist teams showed there is always room to push the envelope on zero energy buildings,” said Rachel Romero, Design Challenge competition manager.

Finalist teams were selected at the Semifinal Competition Event, held virtually February 24–25, 2023.  Teams presented their zero energy building designs to a panel of industry experts and finalists were selected based on their innovations, technical plans, and the quality of their presentations.

The competition includes residential and commercial designs in six different divisions: New Housing, Retrofit Housing, Attached Housing, Multifamily Building, Office Building, and Education Building. Up to 10 teams were selected in each of the contest divisions.

Finalist teams will compete to win their division, and possibly become one of two overall grand winners, at the hybrid Solar Decathlon Competition Event, April 20–23, 2023, in Golden, Colorado, at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The event will also include virtual participation options, networking sessions, and the announcement of the 2023 Build Challenge winners.

“As the premier sponsor for Solar Decathlon this year, we are thrilled to honor the finalist teams in the Design Challenge,” said Deb Cloutier, chief sustainability officer at Legence. “The experience students gain during this program is foundational to the design of energy-efficient and sustainable buildings in real life—some of our best engineers today are Solar Decathlon graduates.”

Join the awards ceremony livestream on April 23, 2023, 10 a.m. EDT, to see which finalist teams earn the grand prizes this year!

2023 Design Challenge finalist teams by division:

New Housing Division

  • Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina
  • Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec
  • Loughborough University, Loughborough, United Kingdom
  • Monash University, Clayton, Australia
  • The University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona
  • The University of New Hampshire, Durham, New Hampshire
  • University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand
  • University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida
  • University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario
  • Wentworth Institute of Technology, Boston, Massachusetts

Retrofit Housing Division

  • Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina
  • Ferris State University, Big Rapids, Michigan
  • Howard University, Washington, D.C.
  • Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, Illinois
  • Marywood University, Scranton, Pennsylvania; Johnson College, Scranton, Pennsylvania
  • The University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma
  • Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario

Attached Housing Division

  • Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina
  • Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas; Hanoi University of Civil Engineering, Hanoi, Vietnam
  • The University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona
  • The University of British Columbia Okanagan, Kelowna, British Columbia; Thompson Rivers University, Kamloops, British Columbia
  • Toronto Metropolitan University, Toronto, Ontario
  • University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio
  • University of Minnesota Twin Cities, Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri
  • University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Chattanooga, Tennessee
  • Wentworth Institute of Technology, Boston, Massachusetts

Multifamily Building Division

  • Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario
  • Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec
  • Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, Illinois
  • Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts
  • State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, New York; Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York
  • Toronto Metropolitan University, Toronto, Ontario
  • University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio
  • University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California
  • University of Minnesota Twin Cities, Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Alexandria, Virginia

Office Building Division

  • Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana
  • Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec
  • Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, Illinois
  • Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur, Kharagpur, India
  • Indian Institute of Technology Ropar, Rupnagar, India
  • Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
  • University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois
  • Monash University, Clayton, Australia
  • University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Wentworth Institute of Technology, Boston, Massachusetts

Education Building Division

  • Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana
  • Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec
  • Howard University, Washington, D.C.
  • Myongji University, Seoul, South Korea
  • Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois
  • Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Oklahoma
  • The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, New York City, New York
  • The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia; British Columbia Institute of Technology, Burnaby, British Columbia
  • University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio
  • University of North Texas, Denton, Texas; Al Hussein Technical University, Amman, Jordan

Zero Energy Design Designation – Join March 7 Informational Webinar!

February 24, 2023

An aerial view of a home, with the text "Zero Energy Design Designation"

Learn about the Zero Energy Design Designation—March 7 Informational Webinar

Want to earn a designation from the U.S. Department of Energy for your collegiate institution’s zero energy program of study?

Join representatives from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Zero Energy Design Designation virtually on March 7 to learn how participation in the Solar Decathlon can help you earn this prestigious designation!

  • Learn more about the 2023 Zero Energy Design Designation during an informational webinar at 1 p.m. Eastern Time on Tuesday, March 7, 2023.
  • Launched in 2022, DOE has awarded 17 programs of study from 12 post-secondary institutions for their outstanding three-year commitment to provide students with building science education and opportunities to deploy zero energy design skills through hands-on design or build projects.
  • The Zero Energy Design Designation is an opportunity for post-secondary institutions to highlight their leadership in zero energy design education, and the Zero Energy Design Designation application will open for 2023 applicants no later than early May.
  • Collegiate programs that participate in the Solar Decathlon Design and/or Build Challenges through the final submission meet the criteria to apply for the designation!

Webinar details:

  • The webinar is an opportunity to hear from participating faculty about the designation.
  • The session will also help you learn how your college or university program could earn the designation, the application timeline, information about how to apply, and a question/answer period.

The Zero Energy Design Designation organizers hope to see you on March 7! Please reach out with any questions to ZEDD@nrel.gov.

The New Solar Decathlon LinkedIn Page Just Launched

February 23, 2023

a screenshot of the new linkedin page

The New Solar Decathlon LinkedIn Page Just Launched!

You asked, we built it! The new Solar Decathlon LinkedIn page just launched, allowing you to list the program in your experience section, search and connect with other alumni, and showcase your experience to a wider audience. You deserve it: https://bit.ly/SolarD_LinkedIn

Not a Solar Decathlon alum? No problem! Follow the new page to stay up to date on the latest Solar Decathlon happenings, including the announcement of the 2023 Design Challenge Finalists on February 27! The Semifinal Competition Event is this weekend, so stay tuned on LinkedIn for updates.

TWO DAYS REMAIN – Nominate a Faculty Advisor or Alum for the Solar Decathlon Richard King Award by February 1!

January 30, 2023

A collage of past Richard King Award winners -

Last Chance to Nominate a Faculty Advisor or Alum for the Solar Decathlon Richard King Award!

Has an influential U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon® Alum or Faculty Advisor made a positive impact on you, the program, or building a clean energy economy? Nominate them for the Richard King Award by February 1, 2023!

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Nominate a Faculty Advisor or Alum for the Solar Decathlon Richard King Award by February 1!

December 13, 2022

A collage of past Richard King Award winners -

Nominate a Faculty Advisor or Alum for the Solar Decathlon Richard King Award by February 1!

Has an influential U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon® Alum or Faculty Advisor made a positive impact on you, the program, or building a clean energy economy? Nominate them for the Richard King Award by February 1, 2023!

More »

Ready, Set, Go! 120+ Teams to Compete in the Solar Decathlon 2023 Design Challenge

November 9, 2022

Map showing 97 collegiate institutions with 124 total teams are participating in the Solar Decathlon 2023 Design Challenge.

97 collegiate institutions with 124 total teams are participating in the Solar Decathlon 2023 Design Challenge.

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Exclusive Solar Decathlon Webinar, Industrialized Construction

November 7, 2022

A Blok modular apartment unit is installed at the NREL Research Block. (Photo courtesy of NREL)

A Blok modular apartment unit is installed at the NREL Research Block. (Photo courtesy of NREL)

Solar Decathlon has long been synonymous with digestible building science education. Now, the competition is launching a new initiative—SD Studio—to feature one cutting-edge building topic in depth each academic year. This year’s topic is industrialized construction!

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Last Chance to Join Solar Decathlon in 2023!

October 24, 2022

2022 Design Challenge Residential Grand Winners from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

2022 Design Challenge Residential Grand Winners from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Register for the 2023 Design Challenge by the October 26 deadline!

More »

Become a Solar Decathlon Alumni Mentor!

October 12, 2022

Industry professionals connect with Solar Decathlon students during Career Connections at the 2022 Competition Event.

Industry professionals connect with Solar Decathlon students during Career Connections at the 2022 Competition Event.

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon® is looking for program alumni to serve as mentors for current 2023 Design Challenge teams!

More »

20th Anniversary Alum Spotlight: Kathleen Robertson, 2002 Solar Decathlete

October 6, 2022

The first Solar Decathlon collegiate competition was held 20 years ago in the fall of 2002. Back then, teams had to convince the public that solar panels could even power a home. Today, the Solar Decathlon has grown to include more than 25,000 alumni, hundreds of zero energy buildings, and high-performance, low-carbon designs that go far beyond solar.  screenshot from the 20th Anniversary Alum Spotlight: Kathleen Robertson, 2002 Solar Decathlete

To celebrate the 20th anniversary, we talked with Kathleen Robertson, director of policy, government affairs, and markets at Sol Systems, about her experience on the University of Virginia team during the inaugural competition.

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One Month Left! Join the Solar Decathlon to Solve the Climate Crisis One Zero Energy Building at a Time

September 26, 2022

Solar Decsthlon participants presenting to the jury.

One month remains for collegiate teams to register for the next U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon® cycle! Change the status quo of the built environment by imagining a zero-energy building of the future as part of the hands-on 2023 Design Challenge.

Register your team today! Registration closes on October 26 at 5 p.m. ET.

More »

Kickoff Webinar Recording Now Available — Solar Decathlon 2023 Design Challenge

September 12, 2022

screenshot from the Solar Decathlon 2023 Design Challenge Kickoff Webinar.

Interested in making an impact on climate change through the Solar Decathlon but not sure where to start? The 2023 Design Challenge is accepting registrations through October 26 at 5 p.m. ET!

Check out the recording of the 30-minute Kickoff Webinar for an overview of this year’s design-only competition, as well as organizer tips.

Many teams use the Design Challenge as an on-ramp to the two-year Build Challenge, where teams construct or renovate permanent homes in their local communities. The next Build Challenge opens for registrations in July 2023.

Register for the 2023 Design Challenge today! Registration is free, several months remain before deliverables are due, and you can change your registration at any time.

For more information, visit the Solar Decathlon website.

 

Join the Solar Decathlon as a Sponsor!

August 24, 2022

Solar Decathlon hosts standing in front of a sponsor poster.

Inspire and support tomorrow’s buildings industry leaders today by becoming a sponsor for the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon®!

With the participation of thousands of collegiate students and faculty as part of the zero energy building competition each year, Solar Decathlon offers partner organizations an unparalleled opportunity to create relationships with the innovative building professional s of tomorrow.

  • Align your brand with the U.S. Department of Energy competition that has created cutting-edge buildings and inspired thousands of students worldwide to enter the clean energy workforce.
  • Partners of the Solar Decathlon enjoy benefits such as:
    • Tax deductible donations
    • Exclusive networking and hiring opportunities with top students
    • VIP access to Solar Decathlon events
    • Logo promotion on a national scale, including at 2023 Build Challenge exhibitions
    • Social media highlights
    • And more!

Sponsor Testimonial:

“As a first-time Solar Decathlon sponsor in 2022, we found there were many opportunities for Infineon to participate, and the Solar Decathlon team helped us understand how best to engage, which was good for Infineon and good for the student teams.

Infineon believes that solar power plays a crucial role in our future, and it will be critical to the company reaching its goal to be carbon neutral by 2030.”

Patrick Thompson, Senior Manager, Government Relations, Infineon

Registration is now open for the 2023 Design Challenge, and 2023 Build Challenge teams are breaking ground on their zero energy homes, which will be open for public exhibition in spring 2023. Join us in building the next generation! Reach out to SolarDecathlon@nrel.gov to learn more.

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