Just like the well-known Olympic decathlon after which it's named, the Solar Decathlon tests performance in ten contests and rewards balanced, all-around skills. Unlike the Olympic decathlon, the Solar Decathlon centers on energy: all of the ways in which we use energy in our daily lives—at work, at home, and at play.
To compete in the Solar Decathlon competition, the teams must design and build homes that are powered exclusively by the sun. The homes must provide enough solar power to perform all the functions we've come to expect at home—washing clothes, running the dishwasher, powering computers, and, of course, maintaining a comfortable temperature.
Each team is judged on its solar home's architecture, livability, comfort, and ability to provide a consistent supply of electricity to run appliances, provide ample lighting, and charge an electric car. The homes must also be able to supply hot water for daily use. In addition to the design- and energy-related requirements of the competition, teams must also provide documentation about the development of the design of their homes and communicate about their homes to the public. Just like in the Olympics, some contests are won by objectively measuring performance (for example, the 100-meter sprint or providing adequate electricity to power appliances). Unlike the Olympic decathlon, the Solar Decathlon includes contests that are subjectively evaluated by a jury or panel of judges (for example, architecture and communications).
For three weeks in fall 2005, from September 29-October 19, the Solar Decathlon organizers and teams assemble, maintain, and then disassemble a solar village on the National Mall in view of the U.S. Capitol Building. Here, teams compete against each other in the 10 decathlon contests. Judging for subjectively measured contests takes place October 7-14, and judging for objectively measured contests takes place October 10-15. The team with the highest point total at the end of the competition is the overall Solar Decathlon winner. Additional awards are presented in several other categories.
Learn more about the Ten Solar Decathlon Contests:
The rules and regulations provide technical information about the contests.