In 2003 eighteen teams of students accepted an ambitious challenge: to design, build and operate the best solar powered home. Studying at colleges and universities in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and Spain, they spent the next two years researching the latest solar energy and energy efficiency technologies, and applying that knowledge to creating world class zero-energy homes. In the fall of 2005 they transported their houses to the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and assembled a solar village as part of an international competition. This ten-part contest determined which house most beautifully and effectively harnessed the power of the sun. Each team was judged on the architectural design of their house, as well as how livable and buildable the house would be. In addition, the teams needed to fulfill the basic functions of a modern home throughout the ten-day contest. Teams were required to produce electricity and hot water from sunlight to cook food, wash clothes, provide hot water for bathing, and run household electronics and refrigerators. The results far surpassed expectations…….
- View the companion Video highlighting both the 2005 and 2007 Solar Decathlon Events.
- View the Watt Trekker Video Series highlighting the students and their homes in the 2013 Solar Decathlon in Irvine CA.
- View a short video of the 2016 Sacramento Solar Tiny House competition.
- View current and past competitions at the official US DOE Solar Decathlon website.
“If we could produce just a fraction of the power for our buildings from the sun and, at the same time, reduce our total energy demand by using smarter technologies and designs, the impact on our energy outlook would be tremendous. That is why we are so optimistic about this competition. Young scientists, engineers, and architects – the future builders of America – learn about the latest energy technologies. They learn to work together to balance aesthetics with energy utility to make their homes attractive to the average buyer. Finally, they inspire their peers, the public, and policymakers to think in new ways about how we use our energy. This is the kind of inspiration the nation needs as we continue to confront a variety of energy challenges.” –Congresswoman Judy Biggert, Chairman, House Science Subcommittee on Energy
“I think this competition, particularly this one in 2005, really proved that solar power can work. We had no direct sunlight for the last week! And despite that teams were washing clothes, washing dishes, running air conditioners and doing everything that a normal household would do. If it can work this week, it can work anywhere in the world right now. Solar Energy is here today, let’s celebrate that.” –Jeff Lyng, Team Project Manager from the University of Colorado
“Differing from conventions and trade shows, the Solar Decathlon is a public demonstration; the houses work and prove that the technology is here and now. Nothing presented at the Solar Decathlon is out of the public’s reach.” –Professor Jonathan Knowles, Rhode Island School of Design, Architecture Department Team Advisor