Skip navigation to main content. U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon | Powered by the Sun
Photo of the interior of the University of Virginia house.

The University of Virginia's house at the 2002 Solar Decathlon exhibited a striking interior.

Solar Decathlon 2005


(100 Points)

Contest 1 might seem at first to be a beauty contest, but there is much more to the Architecture contest than just aesthetics. Even in buildings as small as the Solar Decathlon houses, the architecture must do everything that bigger buildings do. And, do it very efficiently.

More than 2,000 years ago, the Roman architect Vitruvius claimed that all buildings should possess the qualities of "firmness, commodity, and delight." Architects today still adhere to those ideas. Good design incorporates structural integrity ("firmness"), function and comfort ("commodity"), and aesthetic appeal ("delight"). The Solar Decathlon homes must be functional, comfortable, structurally sound, and appealing.

But the Solar Decathlon teams have to go further than that. The teams have to design and build attractive, high-performance houses that integrate solar and energy efficiency technologies seamlessly into the homes' designs.

To earn points, the teams must design a delightful and functional home that incorporates the newest energy technologies. Scoring well in Architecture is crucial; teams can earn up to 200 points, twice the number of points available in the other contests.