Photo of Secretary of Energy Chu cheering with members of the 2011 Purdue team.

U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon

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About Solar Decathlon

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Solar Decathlon 2013 will be held at Orange County Great Park in Irvine, California. (Top photo courtesy of the Orange County Great Park Corp.)

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon is an award-winning program that challenges collegiate teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive. The winner of the competition is the team that best blends affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency.

The first Solar Decathlon was held in 2002; the competition has since occurred biennially in 2005, 2007, 2009, and 2011.

The next event will take place Oct. 3–13, 2013, at Orange County Great Park in Irvine, California. The competition houses will be open to visitors on eight days over two weekends. Public hours will be from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily:

  • Thursday, Oct. 3–Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013
  • Thursday, Oct. 10–Sunday, Oct. 13, 2013.

See the tentative site map.

Open to the public free of charge, the Solar Decathlon gives visitors the opportunity to tour the houses, gather ideas to use in their own homes, and learn how energy-saving features can help them save money today.


The Solar Decathlon:

  • Educates students and the public about the money-saving opportunities and environmental benefits presented by clean-energy products and design solutions

  • Demonstrates to the public the comfort and affordability of homes that combine energy-efficient construction and appliances with renewable energy systems available today

  • Provides participating students with unique training that prepares them to enter our nation's clean-energy workforce.


Since 2002, the Solar Decathlon has:

  • Involved 112 collegiate teams, which pursued a multidisciplinary approach to study the requirements for designing and building energy-efficient, solar-powered houses

  • Established a worldwide reputation as a successful educational program and workforce development opportunity for thousands of students

  • Affected the lives of nearly 17,000 collegiate participants

  • Expanded to currently include 65 participating teams and nearly 10,000 students in three competitions around the world: Solar Decathlon Europe 2012, Solar Decathlon China 2013, and the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2013

  • Educated the public about the benefits, affordability, and availability of clean energy solutions by generating widespread media coverage and harnessing digital tools to reach tens of millions of people.

In 2011, the Solar Decathlon:

  • Provided more than 350,000 house visits to the public over 10 days

  • Offered 31 workshops onsite for the public and held a dedicated day of six workshops for builders and industry

  • Reached millions of readers and viewers in markets across the globe through various media.