U.S. Department of Energy

    Solar Decathlon 2013: Designing the Houses of Today

    September 18, 2013

    Designing an energy-efficient, solar-powered house for the Solar Decathlon is like solving a riddle that has more than one right answer. Instead of just thinking about building materials and cost in the design process, teams have to consider a myriad of factors to create a winning house.

    While the design process never officially ends, the teams spend more than a year focusing on the design before breaking ground on their houses. Early on in the process, they select a target client for their house—one of the biggest impacts on their final design—and decide how they will transport their house to the competition site. The teams also have to make sure their designs meet contest criteria and rules—such as staying within a specified square footage, not exceeding solar array dimensions, and being accessible to visitors with disabilities. Throughout the process, the teams are required to submit construction plans and documentation, which are reviewed by the Solar Decathlon organizers for building code and rules compliance. Once their designs are complete, the teams can start constructing their houses. Visit the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2013 website and for the complete story, read the Energy Blog.