2011 Solar Decathlon


2011 Solar Decathlon: Less is More?

The students at this year’s Solar Decathlon tackled a new challenge as part of the biennial competition: designing their energy-efficient houses for $250,000 or less.

The students at this year’s Solar Decathlon tackled a new challenge as part of the biennial competition: designing their energy-efficient houses for $250,000 or less.


What Have We Learned?

The Solar Decathlon's influence on architecture or sustainable technology is difficult to gauge.

University of Maryland Wins Solar Decathlon 2011

Purdue University and New Zealand (Victoria University of Wellington) take second and third place in the biennial competition.


traditional appalachian settlements inspired the house's design. six modules resembling the form of lean-to sheds connect at the central porch.

Appalachian State University

The design for the Solar Homestead was inspired by traditional Appalachian settlements.

the structure also features an exterior deck with a garden and bioremediating beds that treat stormwater runoff collected from the roof.

Florida International University

The perFORM[D]ance House is an open pavilion that blends exterior and interior living.

floorboards and wall paneling were milled from 10 sugar maples harvested from middlebury forests. the exterior cedar siding also came from vermont.

Middlebury College

Using design features of a New England farmhouse, this house is intended to be a...

a sliding polycarbonate screen provides privacy and sun protection, and a bioremediation system filters rainwater.

Ohio State University

The enCORE house used solar-powered products manufactured in Ohio.

empowerhouse tied for first in the affordability category. the team chose rot-resistant and long-lasting cedar siding for the exterior.

Parsons the New School for Design and Stevens Institute of Technology

Empowerhouse was designed with input from the Washington, D.C., Department of Houseing...

the design was intended to appeal to a "typical midwestern consumer," according to team members.

Purdue University

The INhome (short for Indiana home) was designed to appeal to a typical Midwestern...


chip's otherworldly appearance belies its grounding in mainstream technologies.

Southern California Institute of Architecture and California Institute of Technology

CHIP has an otherworldly appearance that belies its grounding in mainstream...

a boltless, pallet-rack system forms the main structure, with technical systems grouped together in a small compartment. the open plan can be expanded by adding floor panels to the existing beams.

Team Belgium: Ghent University

The E-Cube house was conceived as an affordable building kit that can be assembled in...

the building envelope consists of a locally produced, magnesium-oxide-based structural insulated panels that are highly fire- and mold-resistant.

Team Canada: University of Calgary

TRTL was inspired by the culture of the First Nations People of Southern Alberta.

team china designed the y container house around six recycled shipping containers.

Team China: Tongji University

With its Y Container home, Team China took a radical approach to affordability.

 the team attached a 6.5-kilowatt pv array to an offset trellis.

Team Massachusetts: Massachusetts College of Art and Design and the University of Massachusetts at Lowell

The 4D Home was one of the most affordable of this year's competition.


enjoy house was constructed almost entirely of concrete. team members lauded concrete as a more durable, sustainable, and mold resistant option to stick-frame housing.

Team New Jersey: Rutgers University and New Jersey Institute of Technology

The ENJOY House is concrete—almost entirely concrete.

roofpod, a radical penthouse concept, is designed to sit atop midsize buildings.

Team New York: The City College of New York

Roofpod is a solar penthouse that meets code and could be built today in Manhattan.

the long, elegant shelter embodies a relaxed lifestyle in which connecting with the outdoors is central to living.

Team New Zealand: Victoria University of Wellington

The First Light house derived inspiration from the traditional New Zealand holiday...

living house features a double-façade system that comprises two panes of glass with a programmable blind system in between for lighting and shading. the system is connected to an energy-recovery ventilator that supplies the house with passively warmed or cooled air.

The University of Tennessee

The Living First house finished first in the decathlon’s energy balance and water...

 unit 6 is intended for virginias more temperate climate, and only needed a small 2.6-kilowatt solar array to achieve net-zero energy consumption.

Tidewater Virginia: Old Dominion University and Hampton University

The Unit 6 house is intended for Virginia’s more temperate climate.

the house also includes a 30-panel pv array capable of 7.2 kilowatts.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The Re-home included a 30-panel PV array capable of 7.2 kilowatts.

a crestron electronics control system processes data from 40 different sensors in the house, so that homeowners could monitor and control everything from lights to overall energy usage.

University of Maryland

The WaterShed house took top honors in the overall competition.



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