DOE Picks 20 Teams to Compete in the 2011 Solar Decathlon

April 21, 2010

A square two-story house covered with solar panels.

Team Germany's house won the 2009 Solar Decathlon.
Credit: Jim Tetro, DOE Solar Decathlon

DOE announced on April 15 the 20 collegiate teams selected to compete in the next Solar Decathlon, which will be held on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., in fall 2011. For two weeks, teams of college and university students from across the United States and around the world will compete to build and operate the most affordable, attractive, effective, and energy-efficient solar-powered houses. Hosted by DOE, the competition will highlight affordable homes that combine energy-efficient construction and appliances with renewable energy systems that are available today. Teams generally design and partially build their solar homes on or near their campus, then ship the homes by truck (and sometimes by barge) to the National Mall, where the teams have a limited number of days to finish construction. The teams then open their homes to the public while they compete in 10 contests.

The selected teams and their projects represent a diverse range of design approaches, building technologies, and geographic locations, including urban, suburban, and rural settings. The teams include colleges and universities from 14 U.S. states, including California, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Vermont, and Virginia. Four international teams are also participating, including a team from Canada and teams from three countries that are new to the competition: Belgium, China, and New Zealand. In fact, the 2011 competition will feature a lot of new faces, as the only returning teams from the 2009 competition will be from Ohio State University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the University of Calgary (part of a larger "Team Alberta" in 2009, but competing on its own in 2011). The international teams and the teams from California and Hawaii will face special challenges in bringing their solar homes to the National Mall, but the German team that won in 2007 and 2009 can attest to the fact that those challenges can be overcome.

Applications for the 2011 competition were evaluated by a panel of engineers, scientists, and experts from DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Teams were required to meet specific criteria to demonstrate their viability, including their ability to design and build an innovative, entirely solar-powered house; to raise additional funds; to support the project through a well-integrated curriculum; and to assemble the team necessary to carry the project through to completion. In addition, a panel of professionals from the American Institute of Architects, the National Association of Home Builders, the U.S. Green Building Council, building industry media, and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers evaluated conceptual designs from prospective teams. The results of their evaluations, combined with scores based on the four criteria listed above, determined the 2011 Solar Decathlon teams. For more information about the teams and their conceptual designs, see the DOE press release and the newly revised Solar Decathlon Web site.