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Solar Decathlon Shines in Its New California Home

By Deborah Snoonian Glenn
October 17, 2013
Photo © Jason Flakes/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon
A team from the Vienna Institute of Technology took home the top prize in the U.S. Department of Energy’s sixth Solar Decathlon.

A team from the Vienna Institute of Technology, competing in the U.S. for the first time, took home top honors in the Department of Energy’s sixth Solar Decathlon. The University of Nevada, Las Vegas, finished second, and Czech Technical University placed third overall.

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The event took place from October 3 to 13 in Irvine, California. The winners were chosen based on cumulative scores from 10 different contests, including architecture, engineering, affordability, and market appeal. Unlike results in years past for this U.S. competition, only a few points separated each of the top six finishers from one another. “The sunny weather was certainly conducive to energy generation, but that’s not the only factor that influences the scoring,” says Amy Gardner, a juror for the architecture contest who was the faculty advisor to the first-place Decathlon team from the University of Maryland in 2011.

The Decathlon’s organizers decided to shake things up a bit this time by moving the event from its former site in Washington, D.C., to Southern California. More than 60,000 visitors toured the 19 houses erected by students at Irvine’s Orange County Great Park. The hot, dry climate is a good proving ground for solar energy and water-conservation strategies; the next Decathlon, slated for 2015, will take place at the same venue.

Click on the slideshow above for details on some of the projects.

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