What is The Solar Decathlon? – History

Solar Decathlon Competition was introduced for the first time in 2002 by the Ministry of Energy in the United States in order to develop the transmission of knowledge and research in the field of renewable energies including the solar. The challenge offered to universities worldwide is to design and implement – in an academic setting – a house of 75 m2 using the sun as an energy source. Since that first edition, the competition is held every two years at the National Mall in Washington.

Each house is subject to a series of 10 tests that allow a jury to evaluate the architecture, energy efficiency, maintaining the comfort or quality of exchanges that each team has with the public received during visits. The winning project is one that accumulates, as in Olympic decathlon, the maximum points …

Some figures: in 2009, the Solar Decathlon was:
– 307,502 visitors in 10 days
– 32 workshops were held in the solar village, for the general public as well as specific workshops for professionals in industry and construction have been received by some 506 professionals
– Millions of readers and informed people around the world via various media

The next edition will take place in 2011 U.S.

Solar Decathlon Competition in Madrid

Following an agreement between the U.S. and Spanish governments, the Spanish Ministry of Housing has pledged to hold the competition Solar Decathlon Europe in 2010 and 2012, alternating with the American calendar. For the first time, Europe has embraced this challenge, held in Madrid from 17 to 27 June 2010. From a financial point of view, the organization of the Solar Decathlon in Madrid has cost 10 million Euro. The organizer gives 100,000 euros each participating team.

For the 2010 edition, 17 teams were in competition (2 teams originally planned could not move because of the economic crisis: a Mexican team and a Brazilian team):
– 2 from China
– 1 from Finland
– Two from France
– 4 from Germany
– 5 from Spain
– 1 from the United Kingdom
– 2 from U.S.

The 10 selection criteria globalizing a total of 1000 point are:

1. Architecture (120 points)
Architectural quality, consistency, flexibility of space, use of bioclimatic strategy

2. Construction & Engineering (80 points)
Evaluation of principles of construction with a special focus on functionality, performance, safety and technology

3. Solar System (80 points)
To evaluate the functionality, efficiency, soundness and economic viability of the system of solar water heaters.

4. Balance of Power (120 points)
Assess the part of energy self sufficiency in electricity and the actual production of solar energy.

5. Terms of comfort (120 points)
Evaluates the ability to make available a quality of indoor comfort through control of temperature, humidity, acoustics, lighting and the quality of indoor air.

6. Equipment and operation (120 points)
Evaluate the functionality and effectiveness of different applications by simulating everyday use normal household current.

7. Communication and Social Awareness (80 points)
Testify of the communication and public information on options and benefits of solar energy, energy efficiency, sustainable construction and other issues related to the Solar Decathlon.

8. Industrialization and market viability (80 points)

9. Innovation (80 points)
Evaluates the innovative and revolutionary design of the house, its systems and components that increase the value of the house or improve its performance.

10. Sustainability (120 points)
Evaluate the environmental sensitivity of the team to design and build a house that has a low environmental impact on its life cycle.

The results of this first European edition:

1: Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State university
2: University of Applied Sciences Rosenheim
3: Stuttgart University of Applied Sciences
4: Ecole Nationale Supérieur d’Architecture de Grenoble
5: Aalto University, Finland
6: Bergische Universität Wuppertal
7: Arts et Métiers Paris Tech
8: University of Florida
9: Universidad CEU Cardenal Herrera
10: Fachhochschule fur Technik und Wirtschaft Berlin
11: Shanghai Tongji University
12: Universidad de Sevilla
13: Universidad Politécnica de Cataluña
14: Universidad de Valladolid
15: University of Nottingham
16: Tianjin University
17: Instituto de Arquitectura Avanzada de Cataluña

What’s new on the Solar Decathlon Europe in comparison with the American editions?

It is interesting to note a greater diversity of participants in the Solar Decathlon European, U.S. Solar Decathlon, consisting mainly of teams from the Americas.

There is also a different approach in building houses. A stronger emphasis was placed on sustainable development in the houses. Most teams have opted for a passive strategy with high overall energy performance of the house completed by solar panels to produce additional electricity. The fact that the competition takes place in Madrid, in a hot climate, has required participants to give prominence to passive strategies.

Participants of the Solar Decathlon Europe met and many wish to change the regulations for the European version of the competition. The U.S. rule is not necessarily adapted to the regulations in force in Europe and the values of these countries. To create a specific regulation in European editions several ideas are proposed for debate: how to promote the sustainable development aspect in scoring, what place should be given to teaching (a project driven by students or professionals?) Must limit Budget houses? How do if we want to continue to promote innovation? How to improve the academic contribution in promoting the event locations and times for exchange of information between the teams? Etc..

Future organization of Europe SD?

Contest Solar Decathlon Europe should continue to organize every two years in Europe, alternating with the American edition. In the idea, it would be interesting to change the host site and season, to make participants work in different climates and latitudes.

For 2012, Spain is the official organizer. The contest will take place in Madrid or Barcelona, the choice between the two cities has not yet been done. For 2014, Germany and France are interested to receive the assistance. Germany already several times winner of the contest in the United States and positioned this year in 2nd and 3rd place wishes to run the competition as did France, which was positioned for his first contest in 4th and 7th place. Spain has not yet ruled on his possible candidacy in 2014.

The nomination of France for 2014 was declared by Mr. Appeared, Secretary of State for Housing, during his visit to the solar village on June 21 Following this statement, Mrs. Baldwin, in charge of the Department of Ecology, Environment, Sustainable Development and the Sea came to Madrid to meet with organizers and American Spanish and to prepare the nomination of France .

In the meeting between Ms. Baldwin, Richard King, organizer of the competition and U.S. Javier Serra Maria Tome, as director of innovation and quality in construction in Spain, and representatives of the two French teams participating jurisdiction following main points:
– Richard King is sensitive to a European proposal for approval of the competition, the organizer and exchange among countries of the Union. He supported the candidacy of France, which already enjoys political support for his candidacy.
– To position themselves for 2014, France must send their applications through a letter of intent for the month of October 2010.
– To organize the contest, you must sign a memorandum with the U.S. Department of Energy.

– France, a novice on the contest will not be a candidate if she won the support of Spain to the organization (proposed joint committee of organization, including the Spanish players have gained experience).

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