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15 solar-powered homes designed for the Solar Decathlon

solar decathlon competition casa del sol
If you believe the children are our future, then you’ll be happy to know there are dozens of college students who are learning to make energy-efficient homes right now. As part of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon, 15 schools are competing to design and build operational solar-powered houses.

Taking place between October 8 and 18 at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, California, the teams will compete in a series of contests, including home appliance performance, architecture, and comfort. On the weekends, the houses will be open to the public, so visitors can get ideas for their own homes and learn some tricks to save money and energy.

According to the guidelines, the winning team will produce a house that is “affordable, attractive, and easy to live in; maintains comfortable and healthy indoor environmental conditions; supplies energy to household appliances for cooking, cleaning, and entertainment; provides adequate hot water; and produces as much or more energy than it consumes.”

Here’s the list of schools competing in the Decathlon:

California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo


This house focuses on water-saving features and making the most of the region’s temperate climate.

California State University, Sacramento

Solar Nest

The team wanted to make a home that was not only net-zero but comfortable and livable.

Clemson University

Indigo Pine

Indigo Pine is a house suited to the South Carolina climate but still has a low environmental impact.

Crowder College and Drury University


Missouri has had its share of devastating tornadoes, and ShelteR3 is meant to serve as a habitable living space in the aftermath of disasters.

Missouri University of Science and Technology

Nest House

This year marks the school’s sixth participation in the Decathlon, this time with its Nest house.

New York City College of Technology


Because of its New York City location, the Durahome is meant to be a sustainable urban solution.

State University of New York at Alfred College of Technology and Alfred University


The team focused on making a flexible house, with both high- and low-cost options for different families.

Stevens Institute of Technology

Sure House

After Hurricane Sandy, the creators of the Sure House wanted to make something that would withstand rising sea levels and severe storms.

The University of Texas at Austin and Technische Universitaet Muenchen


The NexusHaus was designed not only for the competition but with an eye towards mass production.

University at Buffalo, The State University of New York


In addition to its solar power, the Grow house also has room for the owner to grow crops.

University of California, Davis


Targeting agricultural farmworkers, the team wants to make a very affordable, efficient house.

University of California, Irvine, Chapman University, Irvine Valley College, and Saddleback College

Casa Del Sol

Considering its southern California location, it’s not surprising the Casa Del Sol has drought-resilient landscaping.

West Virginia University and University of Roma Tor Vergata


Thanks to the partnership between the two schools, the Stile house brings together Italian and Appalachian design.

Western New England University, Universidad Tecnológica de Panamá, and Universidad Tecnológica Centroamericana

Easi Living

The Easi Living home will have a New England-style exterior and modern interior.

Yale University

Y House

Designed for young professionals, the Y House integrates the outdoor and indoor spaces to make the 700-square-foot place seem roomier.

Update 9/15/2015: Updated to reflect Indigo Pine is located in South Carolina. 

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