The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) on April 25 announced the winners of the 20th annual Solar Decathlon, DOE’s longest-tenured student competition that has challenged 40,000 students across the world to use the latest technologies to design and build the most sustainable buildings possible.
Fifty-four Design Challenge finalist teams from 37 collegiate institutions showcased their high-performance, low-carbon building designs in one of six divisions at the Solar Decathlon Competition Event held April 22-24, 2022, at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado.
According to a press release, Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Arizona won this year’s Design Challenge for residential and commercial building grand prizes, respectively.
Additionally, the competition's 14 Build Challenge teams each earned $50,000 in prize funding to build and exhibit their ground-breaking, zero energy buildings in their home communities next spring, where they will compete for contest and grand prizes in April 2023.
Seven more Build Challenge teams are still in the running for the $50,000 in funding and will have the next two months to perfect their designs and resubmit to the competition.
U.S. Secretary of Energy, Jennifer M. Granholm, shares remarks during the 2022 Solar Decathlon Competition Event, taking place in the 20th year of the collegiate competition.
Notes on the winners
The Georgia Institute of Technology team was named the competition's Residential Grand Winner for their design to retrofit a neglected, 102-year-old house in the English Avenue neighborhood of Atlanta, Georgia. The students turned it into a net-positive structure built with materials that naturally absorb carbon. The team also placed first in the Retrofit Division, a new division for the 2022 Design Challenge.
The University of Arizona team was named the competition's Commercial Grand Winner for their multifamily building design that serves low-income and multigenerational families. It integrated hundreds of organic photovoltaic panels, using them to shade a 490,000 square-foot, mixed-use building while keeping accessibility in mind.
Alumnus Alex McDonald and Faculty Advisor Joseph Wheeler won the competition's Richard King Awards for their contributions to the transition to a clean energy economy. Richard King founded DOE's Solar Decathlon in 2000.
Other competitors were also recognized for designing exceptional buildings of different types, winning first, second, and third-place awards for new construction, retrofits, attached housing, multifamily housing, office buildings, and schools.
“For twenty years, DOE’s Solar Decathlon has harnessed the ingenuity and enthusiasm of America’s students to generate cutting-edge climate solutions,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “The innovative building designs developed by this year’s competitors demonstrate how clean energy technologies can be applied to households across the country, including slashing costs for American families, modernizing energy infrastructure, and decarbonizing the building sector.”