The Solar Decathlon is a DOE/NREL sponsored international competition that challenges teams of college students to design and build a fully functioning, net-zero, solar powered, affordable home over the course of two years.
The competition culminates in the building of a full scale “solar village” comprised of the participating teams’ fully functioning solar powered zero net-energy (NZE) homes that are evaluated according to ten categories of performance and design established by the US. DOE.
Through this extraordinary hands-on experience students must work collaboratively and creatively to address numerous challenges including fundraising. The dedicated team members emerge from the experience well positioned to become the next generation of engineers, architects, and builders.
Caltech and SCI-Arc joined forces to compete in the 2011 competition. This marked both schools’ first foray into the event. Their entry was titled "CHIP" (Compact Hyper Insulated Prototype).CHIP placed top 3 in five of the ten competitions, 2nd in engineering and 6th overall.
Caltech and SCI-Arc partnered again for the 2013 competition with an entry called DALE (Dynamic Adjustable Living Environment). DALE's innovations included flexible modules that move on tracks to allow for adjustable living spaces, a smart home control system, and passive design systems paired with ultra efficient, cost effective active systems.