Solar Decathlon 2011 all teams photo

Today, the Solar Decathlon officially opens to the public and the games begin.  The competition is organized by the Department of Energy, and 19 teams have invested more than two years of effort to design, build, and operate solar-powered homes that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive.  The winner will be the one with the highest score after the following ten contests:

  • Architecture contest (juried)
  • Market Appeal contest (juried)
  • Engineering contest (juried)
  • Communications contest (juried)
  • Affordability contest (juried)
  • Comfort Zone contest (measured)
  • Hot Water contest (measured)
  • Appliances contest (measured)
  • Home Entertainment contest (measured and juried)
  • Energy Balance contest (measured)

Make sure to pay attention to the affordability contest, which is new this year.  Each team submitted a list of materials used in their home and that will be priced out.  Homes valued below $250,000 will get full points.  Teams will lose points as the home becomes more expensive.

Also, the homes this year are a lot bigger than in previous years.  Visitors should really get an idea what it’s like living in a solar-powered green home.

[+] Learn more about the Solar Decathlon event.

Credit: Stefano Paltera/U.S. DOE.