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The Solar Decathlon is a two year, international project where university students compete to design, build, and test energy-efficient, net-zero homes. By definition, net-zero energy houses annually produce as much electricity as they consume. The 2011 Solar Decathlon, held in Washington D.C., had 19 university teams from around the world.

Unfortunately, many past Solar Decathlon houses have traditionally been very costly. However, the 2011 Solar Decathlon was the first competition to have an affordability contest. The affordability contest required each home to be valued under an estimated builder’s cost of $250,000, forcing the teams to select economically feasible solutions for creating net zero energy houses, finding super-efficient, solar- powered, and affordable houses can be done by evaluating the contests associated with the Solar Decathlon 2011.

The main cost-effective and energy saving components were discovered by researching final competition scoring of each specific contest. Heat pump water heaters, properly sized photovoltaic arrays, and HVAC systems with proper dehumidification were the main findings of this research, fortunately, all of these findings can immediately be implemented into the design of net-zero energy housing with off-the-shelf products.


This is the AAM of Wallpe*, Jordan, Hutzel, William, Lasker, Gregory, and Cory, Clark, (2012) Evaluating Net-Zero Energy Houses from the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011, Proceedings of the 2012 Construction Research Congress, Purdue University, IN. Copyright ASCE, it is made available here CC-BY-NC-ND, and the version of record is available at