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Photo of group of people, Solar Decathlon 2013 Team Photo

Richard King Award

The Richard King Award honors the man who founded the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon® in 2000. Richard directed Solar Decathlon until his retirement from the U.S. Department of Energy in 2015. He continues to support international Solar Decathlon events globally.

The first Richard King Award was given to the Solar Decathlon founder at the 2017 Solar Decathlon in Denver, Colorado. Future awardees will be selected based on their contributions to the transition to a clean energy economy.

Nominee Eligibility Criteria

  • Nominees must be affiliated with the U.S. Solar Decathlon in one of the award categories (i.e., student alumni or faculty advisor).
  • Nominees must have proven dedication and outstanding contributions to at least one edition of the U.S. Solar Decathlon Design Challenge, including past Race to Zero competitions, or Build Challenge.
  • Nominees do not need to be currently working directly with Solar Decathlon.

Award Categories and Award Criteria

Nomination Forms


Winners were honored during the Solar Decathlon Competition Event in April 2021.

headshot of Prasad Vaidya

Prasad Vaidya, Outstanding Faculty Advisor
Prasad Vaidya is the Director of Solar Decathlon India and a Senior Advisor at AEEE and IIHS. He is a LEED Fellow with 25 years of experience in energy policy, program development, and net-zero energy building projects in the USA, Korea, the Middle East, and India, on over 150 buildings.

He is an Adjunct Professor at Manipal Academy of Higher Education, and a former Professor and Area Chair for Building Energy Performance at CEPT University. At CEPT, he also mentored student teams for the US DOE’s Race to Zero and Solar Decathlon Competitions.

Prasad led the development of an online energy simulation tool for code compliance in India, co-authored the book “Fundamentals of Integrated Design for Sustainable Building”, and has served as member of the Technical Resources Group for the Clinton Climate Initiative.

headshot of Scott Tjaden

Scott Tjaden, Outstanding Student Alumnus
Scott is a principal product manager at Constellation, where he works to bring innovative, energy-saving technologies to the utility’s customers. In 2011, he was a member of the first-place Solar Decathlon team from the University of Maryland. Since his participation as a student, Scott has supported Solar Decathlon in various capacities. In 2015, he served as a competition judge, representing event sponsor Pepco. In 2017, he served on the Organizer's staff for the competition in Denver, Colorado; and in 2019, he served as a Solar Decathlon Build Challenge Reviewer, providing feedback to the 2020 Build Challenge teams on their early designs. Congratulations, Scott!