The Solar Decathlon Europe Rules are designed to meet the objectives of the Organization and to promote an interesting and fair competition.

Although these are based on the rules of the American competition, there are important differences regarding the documents the teams shall periodically deliver and on the subject of the contests, more focused on sustainability, energy efficiency, innovation, and research aspects.

The document ‘SDE Rules’ explains everything the teams need to know in order to compete in the Solar Decathlon Europe. It has five sections:

SECTION 1: General Rules. It includes the rules concerning the most general aspects of the competition: the Organization, the participants, the lots, the houses, the final phase and the general conditions.

SECTION 2 Contests. In this section, the contests and subcontests of the SDE2012 are defined, including the scores distribution, the evaluation criteria, and the planned procedures.

SECTION 3 Deliverables. It includes detailed information about the documents, drawings and other materials that the teams shall submit to the Organization, the format required and the deadlines.

SECTION 4 SDE Building Code. Its main purpose is to guarantee the health and safety of teams and visitors. Complying with these rules is a pre-requisite to compete. They summarize the technical legislation in force in the city of Madrid, where the event is held.

SECTION 5 Annexes. It has complimentary information about the rules.

Below, the most important rules for visitors are explained:


Which institutions can apply for the competition?
Post-secondary educational institutions, mainly universities can apply for the Solar Decathlon Europe competition. Depending on the quality and amount of the proposals received, the Organization selects a limited number of participants. A team which has taken part previously in the American or European edition can compete again on the SDE, as long as it presents a new project.

Who constitute the teams?
The teams are composed of the Team Members and the Team Crew. The first ones, the real core of the teams, are those people linked to the educational institution or institutions which lead them, such as professors, graduate/post-graduate students or recent graduates, among others; the second group refers to those who do not meet that condition, such as collaborating companies, volunteers, sponsors, etc.

There are 14 responsibility posts in each team, the ‘Team Officers’ posts, whose mission is defined in the competition rules and which must be held by ‘Team Members’. The role of the ‘Faculty Advisor’ is especially important. They are the professors who act in the name of the educational institution and guide the team during the development of the project.

During the last phase of the competition, in Madrid, the operation of the houses, the public exhibit tours, and the contests performance is a mission exclusive for the Decathletes, who are the Team Members who are students or recent graduates.


The dimensions of the lots for the teams in the Villa Solar are 20 x 20 meters. The buildings shall also comply with three parameters:

- They shall stay within a Solar Envelope in the shape of a truncated pyramid with a base of 20 x 20 meters (the size of the lot), a superior plane of 10 x 10 m and 6 meters high. In this way, it is implicitly said that the houses can have one or two floors.

- They shall have an architectural footprint of less than 150 m2, considering the exterior perimeter of the house, cantilevers, and moveable components, but not interior open spaces such as courtyards.

- They shall have a measurable area between 70 m2 and 45 m2. The interior space is the thermal envelope, without walls, pillars, closets, and storage from ground to ceiling; considering courtyards at 50% and observing the limits mentioned in any position of the hypothetic moveable elements the project includes. In case the house has two floors, only the biggest one would be considered; and, in any case, the area of the smallest which overlaps with the biggest one shall not be bigger than the 50% of the area of the latest one


All the energy consumed by the houses at the Villa Solar shall come from the solar radiation incident upon their lot. At all times during the competition, the house can consume that energy simultaneously (from the production of their PV or thermal panels), or later, obtaining it either from their own storage systems, which may have previously stored that kind of energy (electricity or heat), or from the Villa Solar grid. In that case, the amount of energy used throughout the competition shall be returned by pouring the energy surplus of the house at some other time.

As for energy generation, there is a limit of 10kW for the whole group of PV and not PV systems. The PV Systems used shall be available in the market at least at the beginning of the final phase of the competition and their price shall be within the limits established in the rules.

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