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Solar Decathlon

NREL organizes the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon, a program that offers collegiate teams a unique experience for developing critical career skills, learning from experts and peers, and gaining valuable insights from world-class thought leaders.

Solar Decathlon provides participating students with hands-on experience and unique training that prepares them to enter the clean energy workforce.

The Solar Decathlon competition is composed of two Challenges: the Design Challenge and the Build Challenge.

Teams that compete in the annual Design Challenge create residential or commercial building designs that are evaluated on how well they meet the nation's rapidly evolving demand for innovative, quick-to-build, high-quality, resilient, grid-interconnected, efficient buildings that respond to targeted community needs.

Finalist team posing with their model at the 2018 U.S. Department of Energy Race to Zero Student Design Competition.

2018 U.S. Department of Energy Race to Zero Student Design Competition at NREL. Photo by Ellen Jaskol, U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon

Teams that compete in the biennial Build Challenge design and construct full-functional houses in one of two Divisions: the National Showcase Division or the Local Build Division. In the National Showcase Division, teams will ship their houses to the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in June 2020 for display on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. In the Local Build Division, teams will display their built houses in selected local communities. Two winners—one from each division—will be selected in July 2020.

Photo of the residential home the Solar Decathlon 2017 Swiss Team built.

U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2017 Swiss Team presents NeighborHub Photo by Dennis Schroeder, U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon

Learn more on the Solar Decathlon website.