Limited Submission Programs - U.S. Department of Energy: Solar Decathlon 2015

Summary of Opportunity
U.S. Department of Energy: Solar Decathlon 2015
OSP Deadline TBA
Funding Agency Deadline TBA
Funding or Award Criteria

Program Description:

As part of the Administration’s larger initiative to improve the country’s science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education efforts and build a more knowledge-intensive workforce, the Department of Energy (DOE) is eager to create and support education and workforce development programs that are specific to applied energy and necessary to build the workforce able to carry out DOE’s mission and advance energy technologies for the future.

The Department of Energy Solar Decathlon is an educational workforce development program designed to educate university-level students. The Solar Decathlon is also a public outreach demonstration designed to foster greater adoption of clean energy technologies and energy efficiency. For more information on the Solar Decathlon visit the Solar Decathlon Website:

Ramping up the development of clean and renewable supplies of energy is one of the most pressing and technically difficult scientific and engineering challenges of both this and the next generation. Yet, at this time of increased energy demand and growth in the energy sector, the United States faces an impending shortage of a workforce and students trained to lead and support the low-carbon economy. For this reason, DOE’s Strategic Plan supports the establishment of a stronger foundation in this area by developing and providing the educational and technical training opportunities needed by the students and workforce who will lead the low-carbon economy.

Purpose of the Solar Decathlon

The Solar Decathlon is a key step to achieving an important goal for DOE, namely, to foster development and facilitate widespread adoption of homes that demonstrate solar and energy efficiency technologies in marketable applications, through technology development and key partnerships. The strategy includes fostering excellence in building science education in universities with the goal of equipping future design and construction professionals with the skills necessary to design and build quality high performance homes that are healthy, safe, durable and energy efficient.

The purpose of the Solar Decathlon is to:

  • Educate students and the public about the money-saving opportunities and environmental benefits presented by clean-energy products and design solutions.
  • Demonstrate to the public the comfort and affordability of homes that combine energy-efficient construction and appliances with renewable-energy systems available today.
  • Provide participating students with unique training that prepares them to enter our nation’s clean-energy workforce.
  • Support University based Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Curriculum Development

About the Solar Decathlon

The Solar Decathlon challenges 20 domestic and international affiliated 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. For a list of prior solar decathlon teams, including winners of past competitions, see:

The Solar Decathlon is a two-year program that culminates with an on-site competition between each university Team that submits a home for the competition. Multi-disciplinary teams of students are assembled, primarily from schools of architecture and engineering to compete in the Decathlon. The first year is centered on design while the second year involves materials selection, construction and fundraising. After construction is completed on campus, the houses are disassembled and transported to the event site where they are reassembled and made ready for the competition.

The Solar Decathlon on-site competition spans approximately 25 consecutive days. Teams have 8-10 days to assemble their houses. During the assembly period, event organizers and sponsors install electrical grids, communication and internet equipment, infrastructure facilities, monitoring and scoring instrumentation, signage and walkways. Once these activities are completed the competition begins and continues for an additional ten days. During the ten days of competition the houses are open to the public. After the competition is over the teams and organizers have five days to disassemble the village and return home.

For the student competitors, the project is designed to increase education about energy-efficient home design, and to accelerate home research and development. The competition fosters collaborations among students in the disciplines of architecture, engineering, business and marketing, and communications at the outset of their careers to achieve the goal of developing and demonstrating solar and energy efficiency technologies in marketable residential applications. Like the athletic decathlon, the Solar Decathlon will test proficiency in a wide range of skills. Unlike its athletic counterpart, however, the Solar Decathlon is a team event, in which the diversity of abilities comes from the composition of the team rather than a single individual.

The Solar Decathlon is also a public event designed to increase awareness about energy for residential use. The competition demonstrates that a beautifully and well-designed house can generate enough thermal and electrical energy to meet the needs of a household, including electricity for lighting, cooking, washing clothes and dishes, powering home and home-office electronics, and maintaining a comfortable indoor temperature and air quality.

A critical long-range outcome of the Solar Decathlon project is the development and demonstration of cost-effective solar-powered homes. DOE is soliciting proposals from post-secondary educational institutions for entries that not only consider participation in the competition but also include a research and development (R&D) component that meets this critical outcome.

Please see the solicitation for complete information.

Applicable Field(s)  
Number of Nominees Allowed


Required Internal Review Documents

Please contact by 11/13/13 for complete application instructions.


Cost Share Requirement:  50% of Total Project Costs

Average Award Amount:  EERE anticipates making awards of $50,000 per recipient.

Nominee(s) Selected to Advance  
Posting Date 11/12/13