sde story

Once upon a time, a formidable international collaboration was born between america & europe.

One fine day at the turn of this millennium, Richard King, a scientist with the U.S. Department of Energy, imagined a world where architects and engineers would play a role as the hero in innovation and sustainability. He believed that they could help lead the way toward conscientious living and long-lasting responses to our homes, habitats and communities. Richard foresaw our roles in creating affordable and available clean-energy living solutions for us on this planet.

The Solar Decathlon (SD) was launched in 2000 as a challenge to university Teams to design, build and operate highly energy-efficient and completely solar-powered homes. By generating widespread media coverage to reach millions of people, SD generated parallel power to educate the public on the benefits, affordability and availability of clean energy solutions. This first SD edition welcomed over 200 000 visitors on the nation’s stage, the National Mall, in Washington D.C.

The next SD Competition in 2005 was equally successful. This event included the first international Teams from Canada and Spain. The SD editions in 2007 and 2009 saw even more international participation; Germany was represented by TU Darmstadt, winning both times among Teams from the U.S., Canada and Spain. The SD in 2011 saw record international participation with Teams from Belgium, Canada, China and New Zealand. Gaining momentum for sure!

Continued European interest and involvement led to a 2008 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the U.S. and Spain. Spanish governmental officials signed on to host the Solar Decathlon Europe, first Solar Decathlon beyond American borders. The first SDE took place in the summer of 2010, in Madrid. It was the most international event to date, with Teams coming from eight countries. After European ‘wins’ in the 2007 and 2009 U.S. SD editions, the U.S. won the inaugural European event, creating the climate of energetic exchange and shared knowledge for an international Solar Decathlon community on the go.

The SDE success in Spain led to a renewed MOU and a second SDE in Madrid. In 2012, Teams from eleven countries, including Asia and South America, competed for the ultimate best scores in the ten contests. The SD in Europe has since become a springboard for international participation in the Solar Decathlon phenomenon.

The European movement has gained traction. In 2012, the French government signed an MOU with the U.S. DOE to host the SDE in 2014. Versailles, historical platform of peace treaties at the end of WW1, was chosen as the site for the ‘Villa Solar’. The SDE14 in Versailles was truly international in nature. Teams from sixteen nations and four continents participated in a naturally charged & exciting french hub. Focusing on local urban issues and emphasising streamlined communications, the revised SDE14 Rules incorporated a focus on local urban issues and an emphasis on streamlined communications actions. The Speed Peer Review Bonanza kicked off the Competition, which showcased the most ambitious houses yet in the SD story.

The Energy Endeavour Foundation, recent winner of the European Solar Prize, is Endorsed by the U.S. DOE to steward the Solar Decathlon Europe. Drawing upon the input of the SDE Council of Experts, the EEF provides continuity from one SDE edition to the next. After a successful rejuvenation with the SDE19 in Szentendre, Hungary, and the upcoming SDE21 in Wuppertal, Germany, the EEF is thrilled with the recent interest from the potential host cities for SDE23! Stay tuned!

sde23_Call for Cities

Find more information on the SDE Council of Experts here: SDE Council of Experts.

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