U.S. Department of Energy

    Maryland Tops U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011

    October 5, 2011

    Photo of a compact modern home.

    The University of Maryland's first place entry in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011.
    Credit:Stefano Paltera/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon

    Secretary of Energy Steven Chu declared the University of Maryland the winner of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011 on October 1. Purdue University took second place in the competition, and New Zealand (Victoria University of Wellington) garnered the third-place award in the 19-team event. The public event ran from September 23 to October 2 on the National Mall's West Potomac Park in Washington, D.C.

    Team Maryland, runner-up in 2007, entered WaterShed, which proposed solutions to water and energy shortages, and was inspired by the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem. Their team's entry was judged the best blend of affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency. En route to the top prize with a score of 951 out of a possible 1,000 points, Maryland took first place in the architecture contest and tied for first in the hot water contest, which requires a daily 15-gallon draw of water in 10 minutes or less for bathing or washing. They also took second in the market appeal contest, which considers livability, and in the appliances contest, which measures how efficiently they refrigerate food and power washing machines, dryers, and dishwashers. See the Solar Decathlon blog.

    On September 30, Solar Decathlon organizers corrected the affordability contest results after discovering a minor error in the scoring spreadsheet calculations. The new numbers changed the outcome of the juried contest, which used a professional estimator and gave teams a maximum score for achieving a target construction cost of $250,000 or less. With its E-Cube more accurately valued at $249,568.09, Team Belgium (Ghent University) moved into the tie for first place with Parsons the New School for Design and Stevens University (which includes Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy at The New School). The cost estimation of Parsons NS Stevens did not change. Purdue University, which had been awarded first place earlier, dropped into second, as the value of its INhome was estimated at $257,853.70 instead of $249,568.09. See the Solar Decathlon blog.

    The Solar Decathlon, launched in 2002 and organized by DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory, is a free opportunity for the public to learn how to save energy and save money. It also trains the nation's next generation of engineers and architects with approximately 15,000 students participating in the contest over the past decade. Teams this year came from universities in California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Vermont, and Virginia, as well as Belgium, Canada, China, and New Zealand. For more results, see the Solar Decathlon final scores and the Solar Decathlon website.