WASHINGTON, DC — College students around the country are completing 14 custom-designed solar-powered homes, and each house will be transported to the nation’s capital for the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) first Solar Decathlon.

The Solar Decathlon is a team competition among universities to design and build the most energy-efficient solar-powered homes, which is being held on the National Mall in Washington, DC, from Sept. 26 to Oct. 5. To win the Solar Decathlon, a team must blend aesthetics and modern conveniences with maximum energy production and efficiency.

“The Department of Energy is proud to sponsor the first-ever Solar Decathlon, a university competition that brings together our nation’s brightest minds to demonstrate practical ways of producing and using energy efficiently in the home,” said Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham. “President Bush and I are committed to helping students and consumers make winning decisions about how they use energy. Because when we power our lives with clean energy, we protect our own future. And when we protect our future, we are all winners.”

Sponsors of the Solar Decathlon, in addition to DOE, include BP Solar, Home Depot, EDS, American Institute of Architects (AIA), and DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

“Each of the unique homes that will comprise the Solar Village on the National Mall marks a significant step forward in innovative residential design, and advanced, energy-efficient engineering,” Abraham added. “These exciting new concepts demonstrate that we can have comfortable and appealing homes that use only energy from the sun. That’s an important contribution to our nation’s energy security and to our environment.”

Each house, limited to roughly 500 square feet for purposes of the competition, will be judged on 10 criteria to determine which most efficiently employs solar energy for heating, cooling, hot water, lighting, appliances, computers, and charging an electric car. The teams will compete in the 10 contests simultaneously.

A jury of architects will evaluate the attractiveness, livability, and effectiveness of each home’s design, while experts from DOE and NREL will measure each home’s energy production and use.

The Solar Decathlon gives architecture and engineering students practical experience with the design and construction of solar-powered, energy-efficient buildings. DOE provided each team with $5,000 toward the construction of their solar house. The teams are raising the rest of the money they need to design, construct, and transport the houses to Washington, DC.

The Solar Decathlon will be open to the public. Exhibits with information on each team’s home, the contest, and renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies will be adjacent to the Solar Decathlon village on the Mall between 4th Street and 7th Street and between the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum and the west building of the National Gallery of Art.

For more information on the Solar Decathlon, visit www.solardecathlon.org.

Publication date: 09/23/2002