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Design Challenge

Collegiate students competing in the Solar Decathlon Design Challenge work in multidisciplinary teams to create innovative and high-performance building designs that address real-world issues related to climate change, affordability, and environmental justice.

Teams collaborate on a residential or commercial design project for one or two academic semesters, with the competition culminating each April at the Solar Decathlon Competition Event. The Competition Event provides an opportunity for teams to present their designs to expert jurors, network and build connections with industry professionals, and share ideas with other Decathletes from around the world. Winning teams are recognized with awards on an international stage and winning design projects are shared through Solar Decathlon and U.S. Department of Energy channels. The Design Challenge builds on the 20+ year legacy of the Solar Decathlon in creating a global community of current and future professionals dedicated to tackling the most complex problems facing the buildings industry.

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Why compete in the Design Challenge?

  • Collegiate institutions are recognized as leaders who are producing career-ready professionals with real-world skills. 
  • Students develop market-ready design skills, form lasting connections with leading industry professionals, and join the growing global network of Solar Decathlete alumni.
  • Faculty prepare students to implement creative solutions in the buildings industry and build connections with other faculty members and collegiate programs from around the world.
  • Industry partners and sponsors gain international recognition and play a transformative role in building the next generation of knowledgeable design professionals.
  • Alumni maintain strong connections to a global professional network and gain leadership skills through mentoring opportunities with current student teams.

SUMMARY OF IMPORTANT DATES FOR 2023 DESIGN CHALLENGE

Complete details are available in the Design Challenge Rules, which will be available in July 2022.

  • July 2022: Solar Decathlon Design Challenge Rules are released, Team Registration opens, and teams may begin work on the project.
  • October 26, 2022: All teams must complete the Team Registration. All teams with a completed Team Registration are accepted to participate.
  • September 2022 to March 2023: Competition webinars and Building Science trainings are offered to Participant Teams.
  • December 6, 2022: Teams are encouraged to submit a preliminary Project Summary.
  • February 2023: Virtual Semifinal Competition Event where teams showcase their preliminary designs to earn one of 10 finalist spots in each division.
  • April 2023: Teams present to industry leaders virtually or in-person during the hybrid Solar Decathlon Competition Event at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado; awards are presented to winners.