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

October 24, 2007

German Team Takes First Place Overall in the Solar Decathlon

Photo of the German team's solar home, a rectangular house with paneled oak walls and large glass windows. Large wooden screens are folded back to let in sunlight.

The Darmstadt team's home was made largely of German oak. Some of the louvers on its windows incorporated strips of solar cell material that generated power for the house.

The team from the Technische Universität Darmstadt in Germany came from behind to win first place overall in the Solar Decathlon on October 19th. The German team finished with 1,025 points out of a total of 1,200, followed by University of Maryland with 1,000 points and Santa Clara University with 980 points. One reason for the German team's overall win is its first-place finish in the engineering contest, which was also announced on the 19th. But the University of Maryland was also a strong contender, coming in second in the market viability contest, which was won by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on the 18th. The Germans took an early lead in the competition by winning the architecture contest on the 15th, but they lost the lead when Maryland won the communications contest on the 16th, and they didn't reclaim it until the final day. See the DOE press releases for the overall win (including the engineering contest) and the market viability contest.

Six of the competition's 10 contests were based on real-time data from the houses and also concluded on the 19th. Although the University of Maryland won the juried portion of the lighting contest (followed by the German team and Team Montreal), the Technische Universität Darmstadt did a better job of lighting its house, and ended up in first place in that contest. Texas A&M University won the appliances contest by best meeting the requirements to run a variety of appliances, as well as a television and a computer. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign won the "comfort zone" contest by maintaining its house's temperature and humidity within tight limits, while the University of Colorado won the "getting around" contest by putting the most miles—332—on an electric car that was powered by their house. Five teams earned the full 100 points in the hot water contest, which required the teams to produce 15 gallons of solar-heated water in 10 minutes or less. Finally, seven teams earned the full 100 points in the "energy balance" contest, which is based on whether the teams maintained the charge in their battery packs after operating the house all week long. See the DOE press release on the juried portion of the lighting contest and see the Solar Decathlon Web site for detailed scoring information.

October 20th was the last day of the Solar Decathlon, and teams spent the following two days deconstructing the solar village and shipping their houses back to their home states and countries. Looking to the future, the application process for the next Solar Decathlon, scheduled for fall 2009, has already begun. The request for proposals was issued on October 12th, and responses are due by December 7th. See the Solar Decathlon Web site for photos, videos, blogs, and daily journals from the event and the 2009 Solar Decathlon request for proposals (PDF 648 KB). Download Adobe Reader.