Solar Decathlon 2013

The University of Southern California's fluxHome image: © Benny Chan / Fotoworks

The University of Southern California’s fluxHome
image: © Benny Chan / Fotoworks

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon is a biennial challenge for collegiate teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses. The winner of the competition is decided based on the affordability, consumer appeal, design excellence, energy production, and efficiency of the built design. With the purpose of educating both students and the public about clean and renewable energy, the Decathlon competitors are judged in ten categories, ranging from Architecture and Engineering to Market Appeal and Communications. Given the breadth of the competition, the Solar Decathlon’s participants include students and faculty from a variety of academic disciplines, including architecture, landscape architecture, engineering, computer science, product design, economics, communications, and more.

The University of Southern California's fluxHome image: © Benny Chan / Fotoworks

fluxHome’s green wall with plants native to Southern California
image: © Benny Chan / Fotoworks

Since the first competition in 2002, Solar Decathlon has expanded year by year. In addition to the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon, there is also Solar Decathlon Europe and Solar Decathlon China. Over the life of the program, 112 teams and 17,000 individuals have participated. Twenty university-led teams from across the United States, Canada, and Europe are participating in this year’s Decathlon:

  • Arizona State University and The University of New Mexico
  • Czech Republic: Czech Technical University
  • Kentucky/Indiana: University of Louisville, Ball State University and University of Kentucky
  • Middlebury College
  • Missouri University of Science and Technology
  • Norwich University
  • Santa Clara University
  • Southern California Institute of Architecture and California Institute of Technology
  • Stanford University
  • Stevens Institute of Technology
  • Team Alberta: University of Calgary
  • Team Austria: Vienna University of Technology
  • Team Capitol DC: The Catholic University of America, George Washington University, and American University
  • Team Ontario: Queen’s University, Carleton University, and Algonquin College
  • Team Texas: The University of Texas at El Paso and El Paso Community College
  • Tidewater Virginia: Hampton University and Old Dominion University
  • University of Nevada Las Vegas
  • The University of North Carolina at Charlotte
  • University of Southern California
  • West Virginia University
Ken Bernstein looks inside Team Alberta's bathroom, which features a living wall that hosts plant life for cooling, air purification, and connection to nature throughout the year at the Solar Decathlon 2013 on October 5, 2013 at Orange County Great Park in Irvine, Calif.  image: Stefano Paltera/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon

Ken Bernstein looks inside Team Alberta’s bathroom, which features a living wall that hosts plant life for cooling, air purification, and connection to nature throughout the year at the Solar Decathlon 2013 on October 5, 2013 at Orange County Great Park in Irvine, California.
image: Stefano Paltera/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon

Incorporating a mix of passive and active energy systems, competitors included a wide variety of smart features and technologies in their designs, such as thermally-responsive materials, vertical gardens and living walls, energy management systems, reclaimed and recycled materials, and graywater collection systems. You can visit the houses created by this year’s competitors at Orange Country Great Park in Irvine, California. Open from October 3rd to October 13th, Solar Decathlon 2013 and XPO allows visitors to tour this year’s houses and learn ways to save energy in their own homes. It is also possible to visit the 72 houses created in previous competitions, which can be found throughout the United States and around the world.

Native desert plants surround the construction site of the Arizona State University and The University of New Mexico house for the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2013 competition. Called SHADE (Solar Homes Adapting for Desert Equilibrium), the house’s landscape will include a hummingbird and butterfly garden.  image: Carol Anna/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon

Native desert plants surround the construction site of the Arizona State University and The University of New Mexico house for the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2013 competition. Called SHADE (Solar Homes Adapting for Desert Equilibrium), the house’s landscape will include a hummingbird and butterfly garden.
image: Carol Anna/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon

Janet Conroy, of Team Capitol DC, waters the vegetation outside their entry in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2013 at Orange County Great Park in Irvine, Calif. on October 7, 2013. The water used was reclaimed from the Hot Water Contest draw completed earlier in the day.  image: Eric Grigorian/U.S. Department of Energy

Janet Conroy, of Team Capitol DC, waters the vegetation outside their entry in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2013 at Orange County Great Park on October 7, 2013. The water used was reclaimed from the Hot Water Contest draw completed earlier in the day.
image: Eric Grigorian/U.S. Department of Energy

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