The Solar Decathlon

Written By Brianna Panzica

Posted February 1, 2012

The Solar Decathlon was the brainchild of the U.S. Department of Energy in 2002 to promote education of and innovation in the solar market.

It is a biennial competition that challenges 20 college teams to design and construct solar homes over a period of two years, keeping in mind energy efficiency and consumer appeal.

The home each team builds will be judged in ten different categories.  Students receive points from each category to determine the winner.

Categories include architecture, market appeal, engineering, communications, affordability, comfort zone, hot water, appliances, home entertainment, and energy balance.

With this wide range of requirements, it is clear that the decathlon is not just for the engineers.  Students from many different areas of study could lend to the projects.

And the next one, occurring in 2013, will move out of Washington D.C., where it has always been held, and into a new location.

This time around, California’s Orange Country Great Park has been selected after a nationwide competition to determine the location.

Great Park nicely fits all the requirements for the location, including the space for the 20 solar homes and for the tourism the competition will bring.

Orange County Great Park officials are looking forward to the opportunity the Decathlon will bring.  Board of Directors Chair Beth Krom told MarketWatch:

“This unique event fits perfectly with our vision and focus on innovation, sustainability and community engagement.”

Several college teams have already been selected for participation in the event.  The University of Calgary includes roughly sixteen students for the team.

Another team is headed by the University of Louisville, which is partnering with the University of Kentucky and Ball State University.

And two teams from California will also be involved.  The Southern California Institute of Architecture will team up with the California Institute of Technology, and the University of Southern California will make up another team.

And who knows, maybe one of these teams could find the next big breakthrough in home solar systems.

That’s all for now,


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