In 2002 the US Department of Energy began the Solar Decathlon as a competition between university teams from around the world "to design, build and operate a solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy efficient, and attractive".
The winner demonstrates the best blend of: "affordability,consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency".
It is now a biennial event with the next competition in 2015 at in Irvine, California.
The success of the event led to the Spanish and US Governments creating Solar Decathlon Europe in 2007. This was followed by Solar Decathlon China in 2011 and Solar Decathlon Latin America and Caribbean to hold its first competition in 2015 at Universidad del Valle in Santiago de Cali, Columbia. This competition will focus on social housing projects tailored for tropical conditions.
From time to time we will link a Solar Decathlon team entry in Neat Design. What firstly comes to mind in all of these student explorations, is how far they are from main stream home builder offerings. Apart from the obvious energy priorities, they are all light, open and flexible.
The Dutch TU Delft teams 2014 Pre-a-Loger submission, brings these qualities to a sixties terrace house and finished first in Sustainability and Communication & Social Awareness, second in Energy Efficiency and Construction Management & Safety. Overall the team won third prize only three points behind the Italian team which won the first prize.