2011 Solar Collegiate Decathlon; A Sustainable Competition

September 30, 2011

A reoccurring international theme are green competitions which get more people actively involved in developing new sustainable concepts and designs.

The US Department of Energy is hosting a Solar Decathlon on the National Mall in Washington D.C. This is the fifth competition, following decathlons in 2002, 2005, 2007 and 2009. Nineteen teams with 19 unique designs are showcased and the winner is to be announced on Tuesday, October 4, 2011.

The designs are all geared toward net-zero, producing enough energy or more than enough to run themselves without being attached to the grid.

The teams are all collegiate and they are asked to design, build and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy efficient and attractive.

The 19 teams in this year’s decathlon are internationally from colleges or universities:

  1. Maryland
  2. Purdue
  3. SCI-Arc/Caltech
  4. Ohio State
  5. New Zealand
  6. Middlebury College
  7. Illinois
  8. Tennessee
  9. Team Massachusetts
  10. Parsons NS Stevens
  11. Canada
  12. Florida Int’l
  13. Appalachian State
  14. Tidewater Virginia
  15. Team China
  16. Team Belgium
  17. Team New York
  18. Team New Jersey
  19. Team Florida

As of today, September 30, 2011, Maryland is in first place.

The teams compete in ten categories, as decathlon implies. They are judged by task completion, monitored performance and jury evaluation.

The jury evaluated categories are:

  • Architecture contest
  • Market appeal contest
  • Engineering contest
  • Communications contest
  • Affordability contest

The measured categories are:

  • Comfort zone contest
  • Hot water contest
  • Appliances contest
  • Energy balance contest

The single category that is measured and jury evaluated is the:

  • Home entertainment contest

Next week’s winner in the Solar Decathlon is another leader in sustainable design, a future step to where architecture will advance to. The members of each past team that have competed are also encouraged to join the US Department of Energy’s alumni organization.

All the teams are setting new boundaries in sustainable concepts and constructive designs, each a leading example for the future. Good luck to all of the teams!

Resources: Flickr, US Department of Energy and Txchnologist



Jennifer Shockley

Jennifer is originally from Colorado and has recently moved back from Michigan. She is finishing up her Master’s degree in Architecture. She is currently focusing on urban planning and sustainable design and hopes to gain employment at a design firm specializing in these areas. Jennifer also has writing experience serving as an editor for her school newspaper and college magazine. Jennifer has two cats named Prada and Dior-aptly named after her shoe obsession. You can follow Jennifer on twitter @jenshock81.