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What is the Solar Decathlon ?

The Solar Decathlon was inaugurated in the U.S. in 2002 after an initiative taken by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Open to the public, the Solar Decathlon is an award-winning Competition which unites the greatest universities from all over the world to design, build & operate a full-scale, entirely functional solar–powered house.

The Solar Decathlon Europe

The U.S Solar Decathlon has been hugely successful and the word has spread. A European edition now takes place every two years; in 2010 and 2012, Madrid hosted the Competition, with visitors exceeding the
200 000 mark!

The SDE 2014 in France

The 2014 European Solar Decathlon will be held in Versailles, France, in a temporary and sustainable micro-city called La Cité du Soleil®.

For this edition, the SD Organization emphasizes six specific points, all of which are intended to address the fundamentals of ecological energy transitions:

Density is needed to minimize environmental impacts. Collective housing projects are encouraged rather than individual houses.
While it is important to ensure a renewable energy supply, it is even more important to limit demand.
Teams should keep in mind that affordability remains the key issue for applicable sustainable architectural and urban solutions.
The Solar Decathlon Europe aims to be a testing ground for innovative solutions merging urban design, housing and transportation systems.
Innovation remains at the heart of the Competition, covering fundamentals from architecture to house appliances.
Local context
Each project must be a quality response to the cultural, climatic and social contexts of each team’s region.
10 Contests

The Decathlon is based on a careful evaluation of 10 contests with a total of 1000 points. The prototypes are open to the public and evaluated by a jury of experts, all from their specifically related fields.

The 10 contests are as follows:


assess design coherence, flexibility & maximization of space, technologies and bioclimatic strategies.

House functioning

evaluate the functionality and efficiency of a set of appliances that must comply with the demanding standards of present-day society.

Engineering & construction

evaluate functionality of the house structure, envelope, electricity, plumbing and solar system.

Communication and social awareness

assess the team’s capacity to find creative, effective and efficient ways of transmitting ideas that define the teams’ and projects’ own identity.

Energy efficiency

consider excellence in systems and house design, while looking for reduction of energy consumption.

Urban design, transportation & affordability

evaluate the relevance of the housing unit’s grouping proposal and regional positioning, with regard for social and urban contexts of the project.

Electrical energy balance

measure the houses’ electrical energy self-sufficiency and efficiency and assessment of their energy balance.


estimate the innovative aspects of houses in preceding contests, focusing on changes that impact value, performance or efficiency.

Comfort conditions

consider the capacity for providing interior comfort through the control of temperature, humidity, acoustic, lighting and quality of interior air.


measure the team’s reactivity to environmental issues, including its efforts to attain a maximum reduction of negative environmental impact.


The prototypes are continuously monitored through a series of sensors installed in every room. 3 out of 10 contests are evaluated in this manner. Parallel to this, each Team is adjudicated by 5 international juries of experts in each field. The role of the Juries is of paramount importance, as they assess 7 out of 10 contests.

After careful consideration and evaluation, the Team with most points wins!





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Competing Teams

The Organization crew has selected the 20 best projects that come from 16 countries and 3 continents.
The Teams have 18 months to conceive, design, build and transport their zero-energy prototype to La Cité du Soleil® in Versailles.

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Substitute projects

Alongside the 20 official Teams, the Organization has accepted 5 substitute projects that will be exhibited and open to public during the Competition.

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Competition Timeline

The Competition will take place in 2014 from June 14th to July 19th in the Park of Castle of Versailles. This date will mark the successful conclusion of 2 years of hard work by 800 Decathletes.
The prototypes are the product of joint effort & collaborative spirit. Here are some major milestones.

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Activities at La Cité du Soleil®

Showrooms, conference areas, entertainment spaces and partners stands will also be part of La Cité du Soleil®.

The public will be able to visit the site and will be guided through the prototypes by the Decathletes themselves.


The 34-day event will be punctuated by prize ceremonies for the 6 first Solar Decathlon contests. The Teams and the public will all be thrilled with every new contest-winner, as the podium builds momentum.

The tension will reach its peak during the final award ceremony, where the 4 last contest winners will be rewarded and the great winner of Solar Decathlon Europe 2014 is announced!