Stage is Set for the Solar Decathalon

Events, What's New — By Melanie Renzulli on February 27, 2011 at 6:23 am

The Solar Decathalon, a sort of eco-Olympics which sees 20 teams of college students build environmentally-sound, solar-powered houses, will return to the National Mall this fall after all. This year’s event will take place in September in West Potomac Park, just off the main drag of the National Mall.

Fans of green architecture have been flocking to Washington since 2002 to check out the inventive designs and innovative techniques that college teams from around the world come up with. Now a biennial event, happening during odd-numbered years, the Solar Decathalon invites university engineering students and faculty to submit proposals. The organizers of the event, the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, choose 20 teams based on the hundreds of scale models submitting in phase one of the competition. These 20 teams are then charged with building their solar-powered homes on the grounds of the National Mall.

Rice University's Solar Decathalon House

Rice University's Solar Decathalon House

Teams are judged on 10 criteria, hence the “Decathalon.” The 10 criteria are:

  • Architecture
  • Market Appeal
  • Engineering
  • Communications
  • Affordability
  • Comfort Zone
  • Hot Water
  • Appliances
  • Home Entertainment
  • Energy Balance

These energy efficient homes are required to be fully-functional, thus costs can run as high as $600,000. Therefore, when the competition is over, many houses are sold or put to work as research facilities at their respective universities.

The National Mall is known for hosting all sorts of unusual events throughout the year, and the Solar Decathalon is one that enthusiasts of architecture and eco-conscious living shouldn’t miss. To learn more about the Solar Decathalon and check out past winners, visit the Solar Decathalon website.

Image: U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathalon

Tags: architecture, environment, Events, national mall, solar decathalon