the Competition

Aerial photo of Orange County Great Park

Like the Olympic decathlon, the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon consists of 10 contests. These contests are designed to gauge how well the houses perform and how livable and affordable they are. Each contest is worth a maximum of 100 points, for a competition total of 1,000 points.

Teams can earn points three ways:

  1. Task completion
    Teams complete household tasks such as cooking, washing dishes, and doing laundry.
  2. Monitored performance
    Team houses perform to specified criteria, such as maintaining a comfortable (71°–76°F) indoor temperature range.
  3. Jury evaluation
    Jurors who are experts in their field (such as architecture, engineering, and communications) award points for features that cannot be measured (such as aesthetics and design inspiration).

The Solar Decathlon consists of ten competitions.  Five of them are based around a jury evaluation including affordability, architecture, engineering, communications and market appeal.  Four are based around completing tasks and performance criteria through measurement.   These include comfort zone, hot water, appliances and energy balance.  The home entertainment contest is based around both measuring and jury evaluation.

Delta T-90 Team’s primary focus is affordability.  Through the design phase and into construction, many decisions have been based around the overall goal to provide an affordable house in a market that continues to skyrocket in cost.  The social impact of unaffordable housing hinders the opportunity for a family to achieve its dreams of having a home of their own.  With the Delta T-90, this issue is relieved, by lowering short term and long term costs.

Focusing on affordability allows the ∆T90 Team to positively impact the architecture, engineering, communications and market appeal categories.   Market appeal is a great example, being directly affected by the affordable price and the proven fact that the house has been fabricated in a factory setting.  This provides insight into the future capabilities of mass producing the house. Likewise, the architecture and engineering has been designed behind the philosophy of creating beautiful moments throughout the house by optimizing the value of things like good daylighting, simple circulation spaces, and high ceilings.  Communications will be defined by the effort to get the word out about the social impact of creating affordable housing that is durable and reduces the long term bills accumulated by a family.

Efficiency is a standard that will be upheld by the Delta T-90 through the measured contest categories.  The Delta T-90 will thrive through the impact of the thermal envelope, creating a space that can adapt to the intense weather change of Vermont but can still function in the California sun with implemented shading devices.  With heating and ventilation systems that promote energy efficiency, the design will prove its reliability by providing a home that families can afford in the long run.

Learn more about the 10 Solar Decathlon 2013 contests: