This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

October 17, 2007

University of Maryland Takes a Narrow Lead in the Solar Decathlon

Photo of a rectangular house with louvered shutters on the left of its front and plants mounted to the wall to the right of the shutters. Solar panels and collectors cover its roof, which is tilted toward the south.

The University of Maryland's "LEAFHouse" sports green plants on one wall. Its team held the lead in the Solar Decathlon on Tuesday evening.
Credit: Richard King/Solar Decathlon

The University of Maryland claimed a narrow lead in the 2007 Solar Decathlon on October 16th, thanks to winning the communications contest after claiming second place in the architecture contest. The team from Germany's Technische Universit├Ąt Darmstadt won the architecture contest and briefly held the lead on October 15th, while the team from the Universidad Polit├ęcnica de Madrid came in third. For the communications contest, which judges how well the students convey information about their house during public tours and on their Web sites, Santa Clara University came in second, while Pennsylvania State University came in third. See the DOE press releases for the architecture and communications contests, and for additional information, see the Solar Decathlon Daily Journal and Blog and the videos from the event.

As of late in the evening on October 16th, the Georgia Institute of Technology was in second place, while the German team held third place. The teams competing in the Solar Decathlon face off in 10 contests, and with 2 contests complete, the remaining 8 contests relate to engineering; market viability; lighting; comfort; appliances; hot water; "energy balance," based on each team's ability to keep their batteries charged over the course of the event; and "getting around," which measures each team's ability to power a solar car with their home. Of the 10 contests, architecture ranks the highest, with a possible total of 200 out of 1200 points. Engineering and market viability are both worth up to 150 points, with the rest having a total of 100 points. Because many scores are based in part on real-time data collected from the houses, the team rankings can potentially shift throughout the day. The winner of the lighting contest will be named on October 17th, possibly shifting the results once again, so be sure to check the latest results (updated every 15 minutes with real-time data) on the Solar Decathlon Web site.

The Solar Decathlon is a competition involving 20 university teams from across the world designing and building homes that are completely powered and heated by solar energy. It is sponsored by the DOE; DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory; the American Institute of Architects; the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers; the National Association of Homebuilders; the U.S. Green Building Council; and private-sector sponsors BP and Sprint. The overall winner will be announced on October 19th. For daily updates, current standings, photos, and videos, see the Solar Decathlon Web site.