Build Your Team! Solar Decathlon 2023 Design Challenge Opens Registration

July 18, 2022 | By Kelly MacGregor | Contact media relations

More than 300 students stand in front of a building on the National Renewable Energy Laboratory campus for a group photo.
Students participating in the 2022 Design Challenge and 2023 Build Challenge pose on the National Renewable Energy Laboratory campus during the Solar Decathlon 2022 Competition Event, April 22–24, 2022.

Want to design a zero-energy building while still in school? Register now and form a 2023 Design Challenge team to develop sustainable building expertise and tackle real-world problems through the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon® collegiate competition.

As part of the Solar Decathlon 2023 Design Challenge, top collegiate students from across the globe compete to design sustainable, high-performance, low-carbon buildings powered by renewables.

"Buildings account for 35% of the nation's carbon emissions, but they don't have to," said Holly Jamesen Carr, director of the Solar Decathlon in the DOE Building Technologies Office. "To change that, we need to revolutionize the ways we design, build, operate, and renovate buildings, and the Solar Decathlon provides collegiate students with an unrivaled opportunity to do just that."

To be a part of the 2023 Design Challenge, register today, gather your multidisciplinary collegiate team, and start your project! Team registrations close on Oct. 26, 2022, at 5:00 p.m. ET. The 2023 Design Challenge Rules are now available and provide details for each of the 10 contests that make up the Decathlon. Teams can participate in any of the following divisions:

Residential:

  • New Housing
  • Retrofit Housing
  • Attached Housing

Commercial:

  • Multifamily Building
  • Office Building
  • Education Building.

Collegiate institutions can have multiple teams (but only one team per division) and can partner with other schools.

2023 Design Challenge Timeline:

  • July 2022: Solar Decathlon Design Challenge Rules are released, and teams may begin work.
  • October 26, 2022: All teams must register by this date to participate.
  • Fall/winter 2022: Initial deliverables due.
  • February 2023: Virtual Semifinal Competition Event for teams to showcase their preliminary designs to earn one of 10 finalist spots in each division.
  • April 2023: Finalist Teams present to industry leaders virtually or at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado; awards are presented to winners.

Interested in going beyond design by constructing a zero-energy house during your undergraduate or graduate studies? The Solar Decathlon Build Challenge will reopen for applications in July 2023. The Build Challenge typically runs for two years and culminates with teams presenting zero-energy houses constructed in their communities. Interested teams are encouraged to participate in the 2023 Design Challenge to gain experience and prepare their design. Finalist Teams in the current Build Challenge cycle have completed their designs and are now starting construction, exhibiting their groundbreaking houses in local communities across the world in April 2023.

About the Solar Decathlon

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon® is a collegiate competition that prepares the next generation of building professionals to design and build high-performance, low-carbon buildings powered by renewables. The Design Challenge is a one- to two-semester, design-only competition, while the Build Challenge is a two-year design-build competition.

Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2022, the Solar Decathlon has challenged more than 25,000 students to create efficient, affordable buildings powered by renewables, while promoting student innovation, STEM education, and workforce development opportunities in the buildings industry.

Buildings account for 75% of electricity use, 40% of total energy use, and 35% of carbon emissions in the United States. Solar Decathlon supports a key strategy for tackling climate challenges: developing a workforce that is equipped to design and construct a low-carbon building stock and deliver an equitable clean energy future.

Additional details are available on the Solar Decathlon website.