Solar Decathlon

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon is an award-winning program that challenges collegiate teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive. Every two years, 20 teams from universities around the world are selected through a competitive process to assemble interdisciplinary teams of students to convene on a central challenge: how can we change the way future generations live with attractive and affordable homes that harness the power of the sun.

The winner of the competition is the team that best blends affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency.

The first Solar Decathlon was held in 2002; the competition has since occurred biennially in 2005, 2007, 2009, and 2011. The next event will take place on October 3-13, 2013 at Orange County Great Park in Irvine, California.

Open to the public free of charge, the Solar Decathlon gives visitors the opportunity to tour the houses, gather ideas to use in their own homes, and learn how energy-saving features can help them save money today.


Teams will be juried or measured on ten competitions within the Solar Decathlon:


Architecture contest: Team aSUNm will develop an architectural design which will seamlessly incorporate sustainable building practices, commercially available photovoltaic panels, and BIPV.

Market Appeal contest: aSUNm will target the house design to two of the fastest growing demographic groups.

Engineering contest: ASU and UNM will design an innovative, precise, and efficient electrical infrastructure for housing aligned with Building America priorities.

Communications contest: The team will provide educational and outreach activities related to the Solar Decathlon project in conjunction with existing interdisciplinary sustainable and renewable energy programs at both ASU and UNM.

Affordability contest: aSUNm will seek out the most cost efficient solutions for building materials, energy management and monitoring, appliances, water management, and urban gardening.


Comfort Zone contest: Team ASUNM will ensure comfort settings in all living areas of the house through the sophisticated Home Area Network and Energy Management System which will be designed.

Hot Water contest: Team ASUNM will ensure sufficient supplies of hot water needed for bathing, washing, and cleaning through the custom designed Home Energy Management System.

Appliances contest: ASU and UNM will not only seek out the most energy efficient commercially available appliances, but will also experiment with new generation of energy efficient DC appliances.

Home Entertainment contest: Team ASUNM will incorporate typical home entertainment elements, as well as various settings for moods and other custom settings.

Energy Balance contest: Team ASUNM will evaluate energy flow through a large number of meters and sensors, monitoring both electrical and thermal energy consumption. All data will be logged and evaluated to seek out improvements.

Solar Decathlon complete rules