The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon is an international biennial competition that challenges twenty collegiate teams to design, build, and exhibit solar-powered homes. Solar Decathlon 2013 will be held at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, California from October 3 to 13, 2013.
The competition includes 10 contests of 100 points each:
- ArchitectureOpen or Close
A jury of professional architects will focus on:
- Market AppealOpen or Close
- EngineeringOpen or Close
- CommunicationsOpen or Close
The Communications Jury evaluates the team on the effective presentation of material to the general public in several different ways. The first part of the contest is the website content. The jury looks for web content quality, appropriateness, and originality. The webpage must also have an audiovisual presentation which portrays the accuracy of the representation of the as-built house on the competition site, accessible captioning, clarity of the narrative, and creativity. The jury also looks at: the quality of onsite graphics, photos, displays, and signage; the delivery of messages to target audiences and people of all abilities; and the use of innovative methods to engage audiences, including website visitors and people waiting to tour a house.
- AffordibilityOpen or Close
A professional estimator determines the construction cost of each house. Teams earn 100 points for achieving a target construction cost of $250,000 or less. A sliding point scale is then applied to houses with estimated construction costs between $250,001 and $599,999. Houses with estimated costs of $600,000 or more receive zero points.
- Comfort ZoneOpen or Close
The house is monitored in two separate locations within the conditioned space. The house has to maintain a temperature between 71°F (22.2°C) and 76°F (24.4°C). The house must sustain a relative humidity less than 60%.
- Hot WaterOpen or Close
The team needs to deliver 15 gallons (56.8 l) of hot water (110°F/43.3°C) in 10 minutes or less.
- AppliancesOpen or Close
This competition monitors all of the appliances including: refrigerator, freezer, washing machine, dryer, and dishwasher. Throughout the entire competition, the refrigerator and freezer are monitored. The refrigerator must maintain a temperature between 34°F (1.11°C) and 40°F (4.44°C) and the freezer must keep a temperature between -20°F (-28.9°C) and 5°F (-1.5°C). During the competition 8 loads of laundry must be done. The washer must wash a load of laundry in a specific time. The dryer must return a load of laundry to a total weight less than or equal to the load’s total weight before washing using active or passive drying methods. The dishwasher must run through a complete, uninterrupted cycle, at some point during which a temperature sensor placed in the dishwasher has to reach 120°F (48.9°C). During the competition 5 sets of dishes must be washed.
- Home EntertainmentOpen or Close
The contest works to ensure that the house would be able to function as a common area to entertain guests. Teams must hold two dinner parties for neighbors, who award the host team points based on the quality of the meal, ambiance, and overall experience. A movie night is also held for neighbors, who rate their hosts based on the quality and design of the home theater system as well as ambiance and overall experience. To simulate cooking, teams must use a kitchen appliance to vaporize 5 pounds (80 oz or 2.268 kg) of water within a specified period of time. Teams must also keep all interior and exterior house lights on during specified periods of time and operate a television and computer during specified time periods.
- Energy BalanceOpen or Close
In the Energy Balance Contest, a team receives full points for producing at least as much energy as its house needs, thus achieving a net energy consumption of zero during contest week. This is accomplished by balancing production and consumption.