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Photo of a man wearing safety gear on the roof of a house. Above him is a large photovoltaic panel.

A member of Team Spain installs a portion of his house's roof during Solar Decathlon 2009.

Solar Decathlon 2009

Solar Decathlon House Construction Costs

The construction costs of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2009 team houses varied widely based on the technologies employed and the target market for which they were designed. In general, however, construction costs ranged from about $200,000 to more than $800,000. But it is important to remember that these houses were one-of-a-kind designs that incorporated bleeding-edge technologies. If they were to be mass-produced, as most residential homes are, their overall costs would likely decrease significantly.

Specific construction cost ranges for each house as well as information about how these ranges were determined are provided below.

Individual Construction Cost Ranges

The construction cost ranges for all Solar Decathlon 2009 team houses are provided in the table below.

Cost Category Key

$ up to $250,000  
$$ $250,000–$450,000  
$$$ $450,000–$650,000  
$$$$   $650,000–$850,000  
Team Cost Category Cost Range
Arizona $$$ $450,000–$650,000
Cornell $$$ $450,000–$650,000
Illinois $$ $250,000–$450,000
Iowa State $$ $250,000–$450,000
Kentucky $$$ $450,000–$650,000
Minnesota $$$ $450,000–$650,000
Ohio State $$ $250,000–$450,000
Penn State $$ $250,000–$450,000
Puerto Rico $$$ $450,000–$650,000
Rice $ up to $250,000
Team Alberta $$$ $450,000–$650,000
Team Boston $$$ $450,000–$650,000
Team California $$$ $450,000–$650,000
Team Germany $$$$ $650,000–$850,000
Team Missouri $$ $250,000–$450,000
Team Ontario $$$$ $650,000–$850,000
Team Spain $$$ $450,000–$650,000
Univ. of Louisiana $$ $250,000–$450,000
Virginia Tech $$$ $450,000–$650,000
WI-Milwaukee $$$ $450,000–$650,000

How Construction Costs Were Determined

The construction cost estimates provided here were developed by a firm hired by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory that specializes in construction cost estimating. The project lead for this task is a certified professional estimator.

These estimates:

  • Are accurate to +/- 20% and have a 90% confidence level

  • Are based on and consistent with the design presented in the team's construction documents (i.e., their construction drawings and project manual) submitted June 2, 2009 (Team construction documents can be found on the individual team pages on this Web site. Design changes made after June 2, 2009, are not reflected in the estimates.)

  • Are for the actual competition prototypes (i.e., all house and site components installed on the competition site)

  • Assume U.S. national average material prices and labor and equipment costs, such that location factors for specific locations can be easily applied

  • Were generated for a homebuilder bidding on a single unit (not a multi-home development).