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Photo of a group of cheering people gathered together with arms outstretched. One person is holding a trophy up high.

The Solar Decathlon 2009 champion, Team Germany, celebrates its prestigious victory.
(Credit: Robin Ashmore/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon)

Photo of a group of people in matching day-glow shirts standing on a riser. One person holds a trophy.

Second-place Solar Decathlon 2009 winners, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is all aglow.
(Credit: Robin Ashmore/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon)

Photo of a group of people smiling. One holds a silver trophy.

Team California enjoys a third-place finish at the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2009.
(Credit: Robin Ashmore/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon)

Solar Decathlon 2009

Daily Journal - October 16, 2009

Team Germany Wins Again!

For the second time in a row, Team Germany has won the Solar Decathlon. By winning the Net Metering contest and earning 150 points, Team Germany pulled ahead of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the rankings at the last minute. Illinois placed second in the overall competition and trailed Germany by only 9 points. Third-place honors went to Team California.

To build suspense for this morning's announcements, we froze the scoreboard so that the teams and public could not see the Engineering and Net Metering contest results. Then, Department of Energy Deputy Secretary Daniel Poneman arrived to announce the winners.

"The decathletes have inspired all of us—and people throughout the world—to imagine a brighter future. In this way, every one of them, and every one of us, is a winner," he said.

Overall Winners

First Place: Team Germany

This team came to Washington, D.C., with a solid strategy for winning the competition. By setting their sights on the contest worth the most points (Net Metering) and performing respectably in everything else, team members proved that strategy and laser-like focus can pay off handsomely. This contender took it to the max—using the maximum building dimensions allowable, applying photovoltaics to every available surface, and pushing the envelope with new technologies. Graciously accepting the award, a Team Germany student said: "We really want to recognize all of the teams here. We've learned so much from you."

Second Place: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

This team set out to express its regional heritage and create a synergy between old and new. It blended traditional techniques in homebuilding with great advances in technology to create a house that performed exceptionally well in energy efficiency—as demonstrated by the team's results in the objective contests. Focused on performance, this team also achieved elegant simplicity in design.

Third Place: Team California

A winning spirit guided this team throughout the competition. Team California excelled in some of the most prestigious subjective contests and ranked in the top three of nearly all of them. The California house is beautiful in every respect. The project broke out of the box and showed masterful execution of the melding of interior and exterior spaces while offering a consistent and high-quality learning experience to visitors.

Engineering Contest Awards

This morning, Engineering contest juror Richard Bourne noted, "Fair and even-handed judgments of these 20 gems of different hues is not an easy task."

First Place: University of Minnesota

The jury was impressed with the very effective building envelope and a solar thermal system tailored for a challenging climate. Jurors lauded the harmonious integration of photovoltaic panels into the architecture and noted their dual function of bringing light into the space while producing electricity.

Second Place: Team California

The jury appreciated the challenges that arise when engineers and architects collaborate and thought this team struck a commendable balance. The Team California house made a very effective step toward creating "the automated home," according to jurors.

Third Place: Penn State

The third-place winner impressed the jury with passive thermal storage throughout the house and creative use of phase-change materials that are nicely integrated into the building envelope.

Engineering Contest Jurors:

  • Richard Bourne, Davis Energy Group
  • David Click, Florida Solar Energy Center
  • Ted Prythero, M-E Engineers

A Heartfelt Thank You

To all the teams, I offer a heartfelt "thank you" for the hard work and competitive spirit you brought to the National Mall. You captured the imagination of everyone who visited over the past 10 days. I also thank all the faculty, university administrators, and sponsors that gave these decathletes the opportunity and means to excel. Thank you to the event sponsors for their time and resources and, more importantly, their trust and belief that their contributions would be well spent. Finally, I want to thank all the organizers who helped make this event possible. Without the help of thousands, the Solar Decathlon would not have happened.

We are going to be here for another two days while the houses remain open for public tours. We are also tabulating the People's Choice voting, which has been going on all week. We will announce the winner of that unofficial, but entertaining, award Saturday night, so be sure to keep your eye on our Web site this weekend.