For the first time ever, Denver will host an international solar home building competition run by the U.S. Department of Energy. The 2017 Solar Decathlon will bring teams from 16 universities to show off model homes and compete for $2 million in prize money.
“Denver and the Colorado community really has demonstrated a leadership role in advancing clean energy technology,” said Jennifer Garson who directs DOE's Solar Decathlon.
While the competition is for college students, the event itself, which will take place in the fall of 2017, is open to those of all ages, said Garson. Past competitions have drawn huge crowds. On average the DOE's Solar Decathlons, which have taken place every two years since 2002, bring in about 60,000 people.
Students in the competition build an 800-square-foot solar-powered house that they transport to the competition site. In this case, that will be an as-yet-undeveloped neighborhood near the 61st and Pená commuter rail station, just a stone’s throw from Denver International Airport.
Competitors are judged on architecture and engineering, cost effectiveness, energy production and aesthetics, among other categories. No teams from Colorado universities are participating in the 2017 decathlon, although the University of Colorado-Boulder has competed in the past. Its 2002 house won the inaugural Solar Decathlon competition.