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10 Contests

The Solar Decathlon consists of ten contests that encompass all of the ways in which we use energy in our daily lives-at work, at home, and at play. Each contest is worth 100 points, except for the Design and Livability contest, which is worth 200 points.

Design and Livability     1. Design and Livability: A jury of architects will judge design, innovation, and aesthetics. The challenge of this contest will be to successfully integrate and synthesize design and solar energy and energy efficiency technologies into a livable and delightful domestic environment.

Design Presentation and Simulation     2. Design Presentation and Simulation: Before a project is built, the designers imagine the project through drawings, models, and computer models. This contest evaluates the production of an imaginative and thorough set of documents illustrating the construction of each team's house and the simulation of its energy performance.

Graphics and Communication     3. Graphics and Communication: Each team will be required to produce its own Web site, newsletters and other outreach materials, as well as provide live tours of their houses to the visiting public. The goal of this contest is to effectively explain the solar energy and energy efficiency technologies used in the competition house.

The Comfort Zone     4. The Comfort Zone: Space heating and cooling are the largest users of energy in residential buildings. Electrical space cooling is expected to increase the use of energy in the next 20 years. This contest will demonstrate that each Solar Decathlon house is designed to maintain interior comfort through natural ventilation, heating, cooling, and humidity controls while using a minimum amount of energy supplied entirely by the sun.

Refrigeration     5. Refrigeration: Every modern home and office has a refrigerator and freezer, a fact that represents an opportunity for energy savings. The challenge of this contest is to maintain appropriate temperatures in a refrigerator and freezer while minimizing energy use. Points will be awarded based on how consistently the refrigerator and freezer maintain interior temperatures throughout the competition week.

Hot Water     6. Hot Water: Heating water with the sun is one of the easiest and least expensive solar energy technologies a homeowner can install to save money and reduce fossil fuel consumption. This contest demonstrates that a solar house can provide all of the energy necessary to heat water for common uses such as bathing, laundry, and dishwashing.

Energy Balance     7. Energy Balance: The object of this contest is to begin and end the competition with the same amount of energy stored in the battery system, demonstrating that the sun can supply the energy necessary for all the daily energy demands of a small household and home-based business.

Lighting     8. Lighting: Electrical lighting is the third largest consumer of energy in buildings. Sunlight, moonlight, and artificial light all contribute to the livability of a house, inside and out. This contest judges the energy efficiency of the lighting in the house as well as the elegance and quality during both the day and night.

Home Business     9. Home Business: Appliances such as personal computers, televisions, fax machines, and other electronic equipment are the biggest consumers of energy in buildings (commercial and residential combined). Almost all offices and most homes, (especially as telecommuting gains popularity), now have these kinds of devices. This contest will require that the houses can provide enough power to satisfy the energy needs of a small business operated from the home.

Getting Around     10. Getting Around: Every year, the personal transportation needs of Americans-getting to and from work, school, and play-is growing. The transportation contest of the Solar Decathlon evaluates how much "extra" energy a competition house can generate to transport solar decathletes around town in a street-legal, commercially-available electric vehicle.