The competition demonstrates that a smart buliding solution is not only capable of providing comfortable interior environment and heat comfort but also that it can generate a sufficient amount of heat and electricity needed for the household operation. Buildings of 20 student teams are judged in 10 competition disciplines, each discipline is worth a maximum of 100 points. The winner is the team receiving highest total of points.
Teams are required to design and build attractive, high-performance houses that integrate solar and energy efficiency technologies seamlessly into the design. A jury of professional architects will focus on architectural elements, holistic design, lighting, inspiration and documentation.
The Market Appeal Jury will evaluate the responsiveness of the house design to the characteristics and requirements of the target client. The jury considers livability, marketability and buildability of the house.
The teams demonstrate how energy-saving features can help consumers save money today. A professional estimator determines the construction cost of each house. Teams earn 100 points for achieving a target construction cost of $250,000 or less. Houses with estimated costs of $600,000 or more receive zero points.
The contest gauges whether a house has what it takes to be a home. The contest includes two dinner parties for neighbors, operating a television and computer during specified time periods, hosting a movie night for neighbors and simulating cooking by using a kitchen appliance to vaporize 5 pounds of water within a specified period of time.
Each team house will be equipped with a bidirectional utility meter to measure the net energy a house produces or consumes over the course of the competition. Teams receive full points for producing at least as much energy as its house needs.
The contest challenges teams to educate others about their houses, their experiences, and their projects. The Communications Jury evaluates team websites, audiovisual presentation information, the quality of onsite signage and public tours.
The contest assesses whether a house's water heating system can supply all the hot water needed for daily washing and bathing. The goal of this task is to deliver 15 gallons (56.8 l) of hot water (110°F/43.3°C) in 10 minutes or less.
Teams earn points for refrigerating and freezing food, washing and drying laundry, and running the dishwasher. Points are awarded e.g. for maintaining the refrigerator temperature between 34°F (1.11°C) and 40°F (4.44°C) or washing a load of laundry within a specified period of time.
The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2013 houses should represent the best of modern engineering. Jury of professional engineers evaluates each house for functionality, efficiency, innovation, reliability and documentation.
Full points are awarded for maintaining narrow temperature and relative humidity ranges during specified periods of time. The houses must maintain temperatures between 71°F (22.2°C) and 76°F (24.4°C) and relative humidity less than 60%.