In 1999, the United State Department of Energy created the Solar Decathlon competition, in which university teams competed against each other with solar houses they designed and built. In just a short amount of time, the competition has become one of the most prestigious international events. The main purpose of the competition is to select the most energy efficient, sustainable and comfortable solar house, which is determined through a series of ten tests undertaken by each team.
The first edition of the Solar Decathlon took place in the fall of 2002 where, for the first time, the Decathletes were faced with the challenge of harnessing, processing, storing and using solar energy to create self-sufficient, sustainable and industrialized homes, whose design and construction corresponds with the modern lifestyle.
From its very first edition, the Solar Decathlon was organized on the National Mall in Washington D.C. – an ideal location for hosting a large number of visitors who come to see the solar houses, attend educational workshops and watch demonstrations of the power of renewable energies.
For the first time ever, this competition was held outside the United States. Solar Decathlon Europe took place in Madrid where it will be carried out again in 2012. You can find more information In the “History and Objectives section”
U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon – 2002
The first edition of the Solar Decathlon competition was held between September 26th and October 6th, 2002.
Fourteen teams, from universities across the United States and from Puerto Rico, participated in the competition.
University of Colorado at Boulders team won first place, followed by the University of Virginia and Auburn University
Solar Decathlon 2002 Official Website
U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon – 2005
The second edition of the Solar Decathlon was held from October 6th to 12th, 2005. This time around, 18 teams of students competed, representing as many universities from the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada and Spain.
The University of Colorado, Denver and Boulder, won first place; Cornell University came in second; and third place went to the California Polytechnic State University.
Solar Decathlon 2005 Official Website
U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon – 2007
In the third edition, 20 teams competed representing universities from the United States, Canada, Spain and Germany. The Villa Solar, located in Washingtons National Mall, received 200,000 visitors; another 400,000 visited the Solar Decathlon through the contests website. In addition to getting to know the houses, visitors were able to see solar technology industry demonstrations and attend educational workshops on energy efficiency.
The Technische Universitat Darmstadt from Germany won first place, while the University of Maryland came in second, and the University of Santa Clara came in third.
Solar Decathlon 2007 Official Website
U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon – 2009
The fourth edition of the Solar Decathlon challenged 20 teams from as many universities around the world to design, build and operate the most energy efficient home. In order to achieve this, students spent more than a year designing the 74m2 houses. In the fall of 2009, they moved their houses to the Villa Solar at the National Mall in Washington D.C.
The 20 teams competed between the 8th and 16th; their houses were open to the public between the 9th and the 18th. As in 2007, the German team (Technische Universität Darmstadt) won the competition; the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign came in second; while the team from California (Santa Clara University, California College of the Arts) won third place.
Solar Decathlon 2009 Official Website
U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011
The 2011 edition took place from September the 23rd, to October the 2nd in Washington. The first and second position were won by Marlyland and Purdue teams. New Zeland came in third place.
Solar Decathlon 2011 Official Website
Photo: Aerial view of the US DOE Solar Decathlon