3. Solar Decathlon #105architecturalinspiration

The Solar Decathlon started in 2002 and has been held biennially since. Teams from colleges and universities across the United States and now the world compete in 10 contests that test the architectural and engineering design, energy efficiency, energy production, and more. These students are among the best designers in the world at creating super efficient solar homes.


The styles vary from traditional elements to incredibly modern solutions.

solar decathlon

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon is an award-winning program that challenges collegiate teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive. The winner of the competition is the team that best blends affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency.

high performance home

The design for the 2007 Germany team’s house appears simple, with an exterior of oak and glass, but the low-tech appearance hides many high-tech devices. The shutters are the solar panels tracking and changing as the sun moves. The floor opens up to create a bedroom, the floor-to-ceiling windows provide maximum light, and the high performance insulation package makes it extremely comfortable.

vegetative wall

From vegetative walls, solar panels, rainwater harvesting systems, to shipping container homes, there is a lot of inspiration to be found every other year at the Decathlon. These projects will surely inspire your creative juices. I have learned a lot from the projects I have toured and from the director of the program, Richard King.

DSC06076 DSC06087

#105architecturalinspirations is a collection of architectural details, buildings, and spaces that inspire me. I am taking on the challenge of finding two projects to spotlight each week in 2015. Hopefully I will be able to keep up and this process of discovery will push me to create better design solutions for my clients as I research and learn more about those projects I enjoy most. I challenge you to add your comments below about this project and to post your own inspirations for all to enjoy. 

Full List of previous #105architecturalinspiration posts

1. Jefferson’s Academical Village

2. Charleston, South Carolina

23 Comments Add yours

  1. Tommy Garland says:

    I remember seeing a TV program featuring this competition; amazingly creative stuff! I’d love to incorporate s
    The herb wall and water catchment components when I build a house..


  2. Joni Grady says:

    Suppose VT has an entry each year? Clemson did– it’s always exciting to read about. It’s not on the Mall anymore is it?


  3. Tommy – these homes are over the top creative. We have a good future with designers like this coming along.


  4. Joni,

    I know VT participated a couple of years and I believe won the competition one year. I don’t think they still participate. FIrst, the competition itself selects teams and they like diversity, second, it takes a lot of work to build a house and move it to site. I believe it was in California last year, no longer in DC due to political games.


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