This past Saturday, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced that Team Austria of the Vienna University of Technology beat out the other 18 teams to win the Solar Decathlon of 2013. It was also apparently the closest and highest scoring version of the biennial competition in the U.S.—ever.
The competition features solar-powered, energy efficient homes designed by teams of collegiate students. “The winning teams’ final scores were the closest they have ever been since the beginning of the competition,” the DOE said. The Austrian entrant earned 951.9 points out of 1,000 points. It was followed by University of Nevada Las Vegas, which garnered 947.6 points and the Czech Technical University, which was awarded 945.1 points. “Team Austria performed well in several of the individual contests, finishing first in the Communications Contest, second in Market Appeal, and tied for first in the Hot Water Contest. Every house in the 2013 competition produced more energy than it consumed,” the DOE added.
“The Solar Decathlon is inspiring and training the next generation of clean energy architects, engineers and entrepreneurs, and showing that affordable, clean energy technologies can help homeowners save money and energy today,” said DOE Secretary Ernest Moniz. “Congratulations to the Solar Decathlon 2013 competitors—your hard work and creativity is helping to build a cleaner, more sustainable energy future.”
The 19 teams who participated designed and built their homes over the past year and a half or so for the competition and then disassembled and moved them—sometimes across the ocean—to Great Park in Irvine, Calif., where they competed across 10 contests to evaluate the homes on their various features and capabilities, ranging from ability to maintain temperature to livability to amount of energy produced, to cost. To mimic the daily use of the house, teams performed everyday tasks throughout the event, which ran from Oct. 3 to Oct. 13., including cooking, laundry, and washing dishes.
The University of Maryland won the last decathlon in 2011. That Solar Decathlon featured homes from as far away as New Zealand and China. German teams won the two annual events prior. This is sixth iteration of the popular event, and since the first Solar Decathlon in 2002, the DOE estimates that roughly 17,000 students have participated in creating the innovative homes that participate in the contest. After the contest is over, the houses are sold or donated so they can actually become functioning homes.