Over the past couple of weeks, 19 student teams from all over the world participated in the Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon competition, building and solar-powered homes that were put to the test in 10 categories like affordability, comfort, architecture and engineering.
On Saturday, Team Austria, made up of students from the Vienna University of Technology, was awarded first place overall in the competition for designing, building, and operating the most cost-effective, energy-efficient and attractive solar-powered house. University of Nevada Las Vegas took second place and Team Czech Republic, comprised of students from Czech Technical University, took third place.
This year, the top three teams' final scores were the closest they have ever been since the beginning of the competition. Team Austria earned 951.9 points out of a possible 1,000, University of Nevada Las Vegas had 947.6 points and Czech Republic had 945.1 points. Every house in the competition this year produced more energy than it used.
To make sure that the competition reflected real-world energy usage, the teams had to perform everyday tasks that happen in most households, like running the dishwasher, doing a load of laundry, cooking meals and having a team movie night.
The results of the engineering competition, the real meat of the decathlon that determines which house best exemplifies excellence in energy-efficiency savings, creative design innovations, and judges the functionality and reliability of each system, were also announced Saturday, with Team Ontario taking the top spot, Czech Republic coming in second, and University of Nevada Las Vegas, The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and Team Austria all tying for third.
You can see photos, videos and more details of each house at the Solar Decathlon website.