Since 2002, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has hosted eight "Solar Decathlons." The most recent one, held in Denver over the course of nine days, ended last week.

Each decathlon has two goals. One is to encourage college student teams from around the United States and Europe to design and build the most energy-efficient solar-powered model homes possible. The second is to allow the general public to tour the event over its course, see the full-size homes that have been built and brought by the student teams, and learn how to save money and energy by implementing the technologies being used in the homes.

"It is a live demonstration of innovative products available today that can help tackle global energy challenges," said Daniel Simmons, acting Secretary of Energy.

"Students are actively addressing global energy challenges such as reliability, resiliency and security by incorporating the use of innovative energy and water efficiency technologies into their professional projects," said Dan Brouillete, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy.

This year, 11 student teams competed—nine from the United States and two from Europe. Originally, 17 teams were chosen approximately two years ago through a competitive process, but six dropped out.

Projects were meant to showcase a diverse range of design approaches; building technologies; and geographic climates, regions, and locations, including urban, suburban and rural.

The Decathlon featured contests in 10 areas. The overall winner was selected based on the best blend of design excellence and smart energy production, as well as innovation, market potential, and energy and water efficiency.

The Swiss team took first place overall, and it took first place in Engineering. The University of Maryland team took second place overall, and the University of California, Berkeley took third.

The Northwestern team took first place in Market Potential, and the Netherlands team took second.

The University of Las Vegas took first place in Innovation, second place in Engineering, and tied for second place with Washington University in Architecture.

For more information on this year's competition and results, visit www.solardecathlon.gov.