Solar Decathalon winning home 2011The University of Maryland team won top honors over the weekend in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon 2011. Competing against schools from across the world, the Maryland students were awarded first place for designing, building, and operating the most cost effective, energy efficient and attractive solar powered house.

Purdue University took second place followed by New Zealand (Victoria University of Wellington) in third place. The solar homes are all temporarily constructed and on display and open to the public in Washington, DC on the National Mall every year.

The Solar Decathlon is a culmination of thousands of hours of hard work, but it is meant to show the public that anyone can save money and energy in their home starting with simple ideas and innovation right now.

”These talented students are demonstrating to consumers the wide range of energy-saving solutions that are available today to save them money on their energy bills,” said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “The houses on display blend affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency.”

All teams competed in 10 contests during 10 days that gauged each house’s performance, livability and affordability. The teams performed everyday tasks, including cooking, laundry, and washing dishes, that tested the energy efficiency of their houses. After all contest results were tallied, Maryland earned 951.151 points out of a possible 1,000 to win the competition.

solar home interiorThe results of the Market Appeal Contest also were announced, with Middlebury College taking first place by scoring 95 out of 100 possible points. The Market Appeal Contest evaluates the livability of each house and its appeal within the housing market. The University of Maryland placed second in Market Appeal, scoring 94 points, which helped solidify their lead in the overall competition. New Zealand placed third in Market Appeal, scoring 93 points in the contest, which helped propel them from fourth place overall into third place in the final competition.

Student teams in the 2011 competition hailed from five countries across four continents, including the United States, Belgium, Canada, China and New Zealand. The application process for the sixth U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon, to be held in fall 2013, has already begun with applications available online for collegiate teams at

(WATCH the video to get a tour of the winning house – Find full competition results and details at


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