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

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

“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,” said Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham. “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 team will compete in the 10 contests simultaneously.

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

Publication date: 09/23/2002