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Golden, Colorado
April 16–18, 2021
Photo of a home design model from a previous competition.

Design Challenge

Teams competing in the Solar Decathlon Design Challenge work for one or two academic semesters. Participants prepare creative solutions for real-world issues in the building industry.

Qualifying teams complete a design project and attend Solar Decathlon Design Challenge Weekend, where they present their designs to a panel of industry expert jurors, compare their projects to those of other teams, learn from presentations by thought leaders and collegiate peers, and engage with a variety of organizations about energy careers. Winning teams are recognized at an Awards Banquet, and winning Project Presentations are published on the website. The competition and winners are promoted through a variety of media outreach efforts, which provide participants and their collegiate institutions an opportunity for national exposure.

Collegiate institutions that participate in the challenge are recognized as leaders who are producing career-ready professionals with cutting-edge skills. Industry partners who collaborate with teams gain national and local recognition and have the opportunity to interact with knowledgeable future design and construction professionals.


Complete details are available in the Design Challenge Rules, which will be coming this summer. Collegiate institutions can start preparing for the 2021 Design Challenge, planned for April 16–18, 2021, at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado.

  • June 2020—Solar Decathlon Design Challenge team application opens.
  • July 2020—Solar Decathlon Design Challenge Rules are released.
  • October 22, 2020—All Design Challenge participating teams must complete the team application. All teams with a complete team application are accepted to participate.
  • September 2019 to March 2020—Webinars and building science trainings are offered.
  • April 16–18, 2021—Finalist teams complete their project submissions and compete with presentations to industry leaders.