For the sixth time since 2002, the U.S. Department of Energy, along with several sponsors including Bosch, Cisco and Wells Fargo, will be hosting the Solar Decathlon at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, California. The competition pits teams of college students from universities all over the world against each other in an effort to design and construct solar powered homes that are energy efficiently, cost effective and aesthetically pleasing.
Twenty teams will be given ten days to build solar homes that generate as much or more energy than they consume. They will also be required to meet certain efficiency benchmarks, and the houses need to be built affordably. The goal of the competition is to promote renewable energy and demonstrate the viability of homes that meet strict environmental and sustainability criteria. In addition, the organizers are hoping to educate the public about clean technology, and encourage the students participating to pursue careers in green tech industries.
Jury panels made up of architecture, engineering and design experts will judge each team's structure in ten categories, including its ability to produce enough hot water for residents, the comfort of the interiors and whether the HVAC system works as planned.
The winners of the competition receive name recognition and networking opportunities. The popularity of the U.S. Solar Decathlon has spawned similar events in other countries spread throughout Europe, Asia and the Pacific.
The competition will take place from October 3-13. Last year's winners, the University of Maryland, won't be participating, but teams from Arizona State University, Santa Clara University and Czech Technical University in the Czech Republic will be taking part.