Germany's Technische Universitat Darmstadt earned top honors in the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Solar Decathlon competition on the National Mall in Washington, DC.

From Oct. 12–20, the 2007 Solar Decathlon challenged 20 university-led teams from the United States and as far away as Puerto Rico, Spain and Germany to design, build and operate the most attractive and energy-efficient solar-powered home. Students competed in architecture, livability and comfort, lighting, appliances and more.

Technische Universitat Darmstadt earned 888.45 points out of a possible 1,200 to win the competition, followed closely by the University of Maryland with 872.45 points and Santa Clara University with 860.80 points.

Congratulating the teams at the closing awards ceremony, Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman announced more than $44 million to support the commercialization and promotion of advanced solar and other clean energy technologies.

“Promoting the early commercialization of solar and other energy-efficient technologies will help secure America’s clean energy future,” Bodman said.

Four Building America contractor teams, including the Building Science Corp., IBACOS, Consortium of Advanced Residential Buildings, and Building Industry Research Alliance will receive up to $40 million over the next five years to develop net-zero-energy homes. These homes will be highly energy efficient—using 70 percent less energy than homes built to current building codes—and will incorporate solar or other on-site renewable systems to provide the balance of their energy needs.

Bodman also announced two regional building technology application centers at the University of Central Florida and Washington State University that will serve 17 states. The DOE awarded $4.1 million, subject to negotiation and annual appropriation, to accelerate the adoption of new and developing energy-efficient technologies by the market. These centers will deliver information and training on commercially available energy-saving technologies, processes and tools that have been developed by DOE and provide a regional resource for market transformation by providing technology and best practices needed to produce marketable, energy-efficient buildings.

The Solar Decathlon encompasses 10 contests in appliances, architecture, comfort zone, communications, energy balance, engineering, getting around (the ability to charge an electric car), hot water, lighting and commercial viability. The winner scores the maximum number of points in each of these categories.

The application process for the next Solar Decathlon, to be held in fall 2009, has begun already. For more information, visit www.solardecathlon.org. EC