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The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon is a collegiate competition made up of 10 contests that challenge student teams to design and build full-size, solar-powered houses. The winner of the competition is the team that best blends design excellence and smart energy production with innovation, market potential, and energy and water efficiency.

This year’s competition is taking place in Denver, Colorado at 61st & Peña Station adjacent to the Denver International Airport. This event is free to the public, October 5 – 9 and 12 – 15, 2017.

The 10 Contests


Contest #1

A jury evaluates the design through documentation, visual presentation, narrative, and the final constructed project.

Market Potential

Contest #2

A jury evaluates the livability, marketability and buildability of the house to the specific target market.


Contest #3

A jury evaluates the design, efficiency, documentation, and innovative features of the home.


Contest #4

A jury evaluates the team website, video, presentations, brand storytelling, and on-site marketing materials.


Contest #5

A jury evaluates the research, concept and execution behind the teams innovative approaches to design and engineering.


Contest #6

A jury evaluates how well the home promotes water conservation, water reclamation, re-use, and irrigation.

Health & Comfort

Contest #7

The home will maintain comfort temperature, humidity and air quality levels throughout measured periods.


Contest #8

The home's appliances will perform daily tasks while performance is monitored throughout measured periods.

Home Life

Contest #9

The home should provide lighting, cooking and hosting capabilities, as well as, the ability to charge an electric vehicle.


Contest #10

The home must produce as a much (or more energy) than consumed during the course of the competition.

Past Entry

DesertSol 2013

UNLV’s inaugural entry in 2013 won 1st place in the nation and 2nd place in the world. Its unique design & engineering made it a top contender during the 2013 competition. DesertSol’s focus was to be the perfect vacation home in the Mojave Desert, bridging the gap between indoor and outdoor living. The home is now located at the Las Vegas Springs Preserve, where it is open for touring. Discover DesertSol