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Solar Decathlon 2022 Design Challenge

Are you interested in designing high-performance buildings that tackle climate change and promote environmental justice? Do you love the thrill of competing with and getting to know top students across the country and around the world? If so, the U.S Department of Energy Solar Decathlon® is for you!

U.S. Department of Energy

Type of Challenge: Software and apps, Creative (multimedia & design), Ideas, Technology demonstration and hardware, Business plans
Partner Agencies | Federal: National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)
Partner Agencies | Non-federal: The Solar Decathlon partners with building industry sponsors who provide technical support for project teams, invaluable jury feedback, and once-in-a-lifetime networking and talent recruitment opportunities for student participants. Learn more on the Solar Decathlon Sponsor webpage.
Submission Start: 06/15/2021 12:00 AM ET
Submission End: 10/26/2021 05:00 PM ET


General Overview

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon® is a collegiate competition that challenges student teams to design highly efficient, innovative, low-carbon buildings powered by renewable energy. The 10 Contests of the Solar Decathlon address building science, energy efficiency, occupant experience, community needs, affordability, resilience, and embodied environmental impact.

Collegiate teams that compete in the annual Design Challenge create residential or commercial building designs that will be evaluated on how well they meet the nation’s rapidly evolving demand for innovative, cost-effective, quick-to-build, high-quality, resilient, grid-interconnected, efficient buildings that respond to targeted community needs. The program is excited to offer six different divisions: New Housing, Retrofit Housing, Attached Housing, Multifamily Building, Office Building, and Education Building. Teams can start planning now for the Solar Decathlon 2022 Design Challenge.

The 2022 Design Challenge adds a new building Division—Retrofit Housing—and has combined other Divisions to better focus on improving the current building stock. In the Retrofit Housing Division, teams modify an existing dwelling that consists of one or two units. Through renovation, the building will reach zero energy construction through upgrades to systems, such as plumbing, electrical, mechanical, and envelope. Partnerships with building owners are also encouraged to develop zero energy designs for real building projects across the country and around the world.

Details about the Design Challenge are available on the Solar Decathlon website.

Key Dates

  • July 2021 – Design Challenge Competition Team Application opens; Rules released
  • September 16, 2021 – Ready, Set, Solar Decathlon Event
  • October 26, 2021 – Design Challenge Team Application due
  • September 2021 to March 2022 – Webinars and Building Science Education offered
  • February 2022 – All teams complete Project Proposal and finalize Division selection
  • April 2022 – Design Challenge Finalist Teams complete their project submissions and present to industry leaders.


Non-monetary Prizes

Winning teams are recognized at an awards banquet with handcrafted trophies, and winning project presentations are published on the Solar Decathlon website. The competition and winners are promoted through a variety of media outreach efforts, which provide participants and their collegiate institutions an opportunity for international exposure. Collegiate institutions that participate in the Solar Decathlon are recognized as leaders who are producing career-ready professionals with cutting-edge skills.


Participants should review the rules and competition details, available at:

Eligibility Requirements

The eligibility criteria and competition details are available at:

Judging Criteria

Judging Panel

The competition culminates in the Solar Decathlon Competition Event, where student teams present their designs to a panel of industry experts.

Judging Criteria

Project submissions are evaluated by jurors according to 10 Contests, described in the Rules. All Contests are equally weighted.

How to Enter

Entry Instructions

2022 Design Challenge Teams may apply and begin projects as early as July 2021. All teams that apply by the October 26, 2021, deadline will be accepted to participate. The application link is available on the Solar Decathlon website.

For the application, each team:

  • Identifies a Faculty Lead
  • Pays a nonrefundable $50 application fee.

Participating Teams will be confirmed and announced in November. Additional competition and submission dates are outlined in the Rules.

Ready to learn more? Teams interested in participating should register for the Ready, Set, Solar Decathlon Event on September 16, 2021. Attendees will learn about the competition structure, resources including software licenses, Building Science Education credits, the Mentor program, stories from alumni, and a panel with experienced faculty sharing best practices. In the meantime, read about the Design Challenge on the Solar Decathlon website.

Submission URL

Teams can register to start their application and submit their deliverables on the Project Site.

Point of Contact

Have feedback or questions about this challenge? Send the challenge manager an email