Collegiate teams featuring over 4,000 students from around the world descended on the National Mall's West Potomac Park in Washington, D.C., on Thursday to showcase solar-powered houses they created for the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Solar Decathlon 2011. According to the agency, the competition challenges collegiate teams to design, build and operate houses powered by the sun that are affordable, energy efficient, attractive and easy to live in.
‘The Solar Decathlon collegiate teams are showing how clean energy products and efficient building design can help families and businesses reduce energy use and save money,’ said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. ‘The event challenges talented students to become pioneers of clean energy technology and helps ensure that our nation remains competitive in the workforce of tomorrow.’
The competition involves 10 contests during 10 days that gauge each house's performance, livability and affordability. New this year, an affordability contest rewards teams that build houses with estimated costs at or below $250,000. The teams will have to perform everyday tasks, including cooking, laundry, and washing dishes, to test the energy efficiency of their houses. The winner of the overall competition is the team that best blends affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency.