Solar Decathlon Design Challenge

SAVE Solar Decathlon Design Challenge

Last Submission Date: 16 February 2021

Last Registration Date: 20 October, 2020

Language: English

Country: USA

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About the Competition

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon® is a collegiate competition, comprising 10 contests, that challenges student teams to design and build highly efficient and innovative buildings powered by renewable energy. The winners will be those teams that best blend architectural design and engineering excellence with innovation, market potential, building efficiency, and smart energy production. The combined competition features two tracks, the Design Challenge and the Build Challenge. The annual Design Challenge spans one or two academic semesters and inspires students to design residential or commercial building solutions that are evaluated for how well they meet the nation’s demand for energy-efficient, innovative, cost-effective, and resilient buildings.  The biennial Build Challenge spans two years and inspires students to design and build cutting-edge and highly-efficient residential houses that are displayed locally in their communities.  The 2021 Design Challenge team application is due on October 20, 2020 at 5 p.m. EDT; all teams who apply are accepted as participants. The next edition of the Build Challenge will kick off in 2021, with the release of the competition Rules, and conclude in 2023. If you are interested in learning more about the 2023 Build Challenge, send an email to the Solar Decathlon Organizers at and we’ll pass along important updates and announcements about the competition.

Design Challenge

First held in 2002 in Washington, D.C., the Solar Decathlon has expanded to Africa, China, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East to involve more than 200 teams and 35,000 collegiate participants worldwide.

The Design Challenge provides unique, hands-on experience and training that prepares competing students to enter the clean energy workforce. The competition creates awareness for the public about more efficient technologies for homes and buildings. Technologies and solutions used in Design Challenge projects have advanced the building industry both in the United States and abroad. The Contests for the Design Challenge are:

  1. Architecture: This Contest evaluates the building’s architecture for creativity, overall integration of systems, and ability to deliver outstanding aesthetics and functionality.
  2. Engineering: This Contest assesses the effective integration of high-performance engineering systems in energy-efficient and energy-producing buildings.
  3. Market Analysis: This Contest evaluates the building’s appeal and affordability by its stated target market; this includes the likelihood of adoption by intended occupants and the construction industry for impactful, cost-effective design.
  4. Durability and Resilience: This Contest evaluates the building’s long-term ability to endure local environmental conditions and anticipate, withstand, respond to, and recover from disruptions.
  5. Embodied Environmental Impact: This Contest evaluates the full life cycle of a building, from cradle to grave.
  6. Integrated Performance: This Contest evaluates how effectively the whole building performance is optimized through passive and active strategies across multiple building disciplines.
  7. Occupant Experience: This Contest evaluates how the building optimizes occupants’ quality of life while also meeting the energy performance goals of the design.
  8. Comfort and Environmental Quality: This Contest evaluates the building’s capability to deliver intended comfort and indoor environmental quality.
  9. Energy Performance: This Contest evaluates reduction of whole building energy consumption, ability to generate clean energy that is needed on-site, and interaction with local grid operations.
  10. Presentation: This Contest gauges the team’s ability to accurately and effectively convey its design and energy performance to relevant audiences.

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