The US Department of Energy Solar Decathlon is a collegiate competition made up of 10 contests that challenge student teams to design and build full-size, solar-powered houses. The 2017 Solar Decathlon will take place in October over a period of nine days in Denver, Colorado.
- Market Potential
- Health and Comfort*
- Home Life*
There are five winners (1st place through 5th) for each competition.
The winners are chosen based on exemplifying the best blend of design excellence and smart energy production with innovation, market potential, and energy and water efficiency. Six of the contests has its own team of jurors who determine the results using objective and subjective measures to evaluate team projects. The other four (see asterisks above) are measured contests.
Juries are composed of individual jurors at the top of their respective professions. Such as architecture, engineering, homebuilding, water use and reuse, and communications. Renowned in their chosen fields of expertise, they bring professional excellence and practical in-the-field expertise. The juried contests are worth 100 points in total, with each jury evaluating the team’s work based on a specific set of criteria. In the communications contest, for example the team is evaluated on its communication strategies, materials and efforts to educate, inform and interest the public using specific strategies and implementation, as well as on-site communications. The jurors spend three days at the Solar Decathlon, with a private tour of each house that provides them with one-on-one interaction with team members.
Meet the jurors
Loraine Fowlow is an associate professor in the Architecture Program at the University of Calgary. She is a two-time veteran of the Solar Decathlon, having served as a faculty advisor for both Team Alberta in 2013 and Team Canada in 2011. Both teams finished in the top 10, with Team Canada's project being recognized with an award for excellence in environmental education by the Emerald Foundation of Alberta.
Since the early 1990s, Henry Siegel has championed the idea that ecological design and design excellence are inseparable. He has put this conviction into practice as lead designer for many of Siegel & Strain’s award-winning projects.
Mr. Siegel is past chair of the AIA Committee on the Environment (COTE) National Advisory Group and advocates for sustainable design and the incorporation of sustainable design values into architectural awards programs and architecture school curriculums.
The founder of Tomecek Studio Architecture, Brad Tomecek graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Design and Masters of Architecture. He worked in smaller award winning firms in Colorado and Florida before launching Tomecek Studio. His work has been featured in Architectural Record, Architect, Builder Magazine, international books, and local magazines. Mr. Tomecek is actively involved with the local AIA and serves on the AIA Denver Board of Directors.
Dr. Nora Wang specializes in building energy efficiency, sustainability, daylighting, and human behavior. She has more than ten years of research experience in building energy efficiency and sustainability. She received her doctorate degree in architecture from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Beginning her career in architecture, Dr. Wang participated in a dozen large-scale international projects and won several design competitions. Since joining the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in 2010, Dr. Wang has led a variety of building research projects, such as green buildings evaluations, energy benchmarking and disclosure, and Buildings of the Future. She is currently leading the development of DOE’s Building Asset Score and Connected Homes.
Joseph Hagerman is a Policy Advisor at DOE’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Office focusing on building energy efficiency and new building technology development. He is at the forefront of the effort to develop clean, healthy, competitive building technologies for the 21st century—leading the department’s smart buildings, transactive controls, and building-to-grid research. Mr. Hagerman also oversees various negotiated federal regulatory and new initiatives for the program, including all activities on connected equipment, cybersecurity in buildings, interoperability, and connected equipment characterization. Mr. Hagerman also oversees the Building Innovators program, which awards innovative graduate student teams to develop market-based technology solutions as well as VOLTTRON applications.
Ara Massey is a Sustainability Director, Senior Associate, and Staffing Manager at Hord Coplan Macht. She joined the firm in 2012 with ten years of experience in construction and design with an emphasis on sustainability and implementation of cost-effective sustainable solutions throughout all phases of development, design, construction, and operation. By helping set, track, and realize building-performance and health and wellness goals throughout design and construction, Ms. Massey ensures optimization of all resources: energy, water, and people. Ms. Massey is a LEED Accredited Professional in Building Design and Construction and manages third-party sustainability rating system certifications.
Jon Previtali leads technical due diligence for solar and wind projects at Wells Fargo, one of the largest financiers of renewable energy in the U.S. He also serves on the board of Wells Fargo’s Innovation Incubator, a grant program for clean-tech starts-ups conducted in collaboration with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. He is one of the primary authors of the Orange Button taxonomy, a DOE-sponsored data language created to streamline information exchange for solar. Mr. Previtali is an engineer who has worked with Internet and renewable energy technologies for over twenty years. He holds Engineering degrees from Stanford University and the University of Colorado Building Systems Program.
Bill Rectanus is the Vice President of Homebuilding Operations for Thrive Home Builders in Denver, Colorado. His responsibilities include the management and oversight of the construction, purchasing, and customer service departments. Mr. Rectanus is also responsible for the implementation and advancement of Thrive Home Builders’ “High Performance Building Initiative.” Mr. Rectanus has broad industry experience that includes solar photovoltaic systems, having previously worked for SunPower Corporation, and in energy efficiency through his work with Ecova managing utility energy-efficiency programs. Mr. Rectanus and the Thrive team construct every home to align with the rigorous specifications of DOE’s Zero Energy Ready Home Program, which includes the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Indoor Air Plus and EnergyStar programs. Thrive has been Denver’s “Solar Standard Builder” since 2009 and has four series of homes they deliver as zero energy.
Antonio M. Bouza is a Technology Manager with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Building Technologies Office (BTO). He is the emerging technology lead on heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC); water heating, and appliances research. His research portfolio focuses on the introduction of new advanced heat-pumping technologies for HVAC and water heating (including non-vapor compression technologies), heat exchanger research, and advanced appliances (e.g., refrigerator, clothes dryers, and radon fans). He is a past volunteer for Solar Decathlon on several occasions, when it was hosted in Washington, D.C. He is the US National Executive Committee (ExCo) delegate to the International Energy Agency’s Technology Collaboration Program on Heat Pumping Technologies, and the former Chairman of the International Organizing Committee for the 11th IEA Heat Pump Conference in Montréal, Canada (2013). He is also a project manager for several rulemakings with respect to energy efficiency standards supporting BTO’s Appliance Standards Program.
Tom Hootman is an architect, engineer, and author. As MKK’s Performance + Design Innovation Lead, he works at the visionary intersection of architecture and engineering and leads MKK’s new Innovation Lab. Mr. Hootman is dedicated to advancing the future of building performance and sustainability and to bringing new solutions and new value to design teams, building owners, and occupants. Mr. Hootman is a pioneer in zero-energy design and has worked on many notable projects, including the Research Support Facility at NREL. He also recently published “Net Zero Energy Design,” a leading design reference on the topic.
Ed May is a partner in the consulting firm Building-Type and specializes in using energy modeling to drive the design of buildings. Mr. May has a background in home construction and holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst as well as a Master of Architecture from Parsons the New School. Mr. May has been an Adjunct Professor at Parsons the New School as well an Industry Professor at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ. At Stevens Institute in 2015, Mr. May was the Project Manager for the Steven’s Solar Decathlon entry, the SURE HOUSE, which was the first place winner overall. In addition to his professional consulting work, Mr. May teaches regularly for the Passive House Academy in Ireland. He is also a Certified Passive House Consultant by both the Passive House Institute in Germany (PHI) and the Passive House Institute of the US (PHIUS).
Kent Peterson, PE, LEED AP BD+C, ASHRAE Distinguished Fellow, is a leading expert on energy-efficient green buildings. He assists in improving best practices in building sustainability and energy efficiency through his efforts with codes and standards. He recently completed a project working with National Institute of Building Sciences and DOE to develop a common definition for Net Zero Energy Buildings that has been adopted in part by the State of California. Mr. Peterson is a past ASHRAE Society President. Mr. Peterson oversees the Zero Net Energy team at P2S and assists design teams in pursuing zero net energy building performance goals. He is a frequent speaker on this topic and others at conferences.
Louise Holloway is an internationally positioned creative director, educator, and brand management expert, advising public organizations, institutions, and consumer brands. She completed her BFA at the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design University and earned her Master’s degree from the Atelier National de Recherche Typographique. After years in the film, advertising, and publishing industries, she launched her Paris/Amsterdam-based communication consultancy, working with clients such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the Administration of Public Works of Luxembourg, and Baccarat. Ms. Holloway was the manager of the Communication and Social Awareness contest for Solar Decathlon Europe (SDE) 2014 and authored the Solar Decathlon Speed Peer Review series, which consolidated the effectiveness and clarity of individual SDE team communication. Ms. Holloway was chief creative officer for the SDE14 ceremonies; she subsequently served as communications and creative director of the Solar Decathlon Europe Secretariat. Ms. Holloway is currently Director of the Energy Endeavour Foundation, stewarding and supporting the Solar Decathlon Europe.
Amy Vaughn Liles is a senior web content strategist at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) with more than 20 years of experience in energy communications. She works with researchers, developers, and IT staff to produce websites and applications for NREL, DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, and other energy-focused organizations. Ms. Vaughn Liles specializes in strategic content development and innovative technical solutions for data integration and content distribution. She also trains and mentors NREL staff in web writing, information architecture, content strategy, accessibility, user experience research, and technology. Ms. Vaughn Liles managed electronic communications—including strategy, development, maintenance, and monitoring of the website, scoring engine, and social media accounts—for Solar Decathlon 2009, 2011, 2013, and 2015. As part of the organizer staff, she also worked with Solar Decathlon teams to improve the quality of their competition websites.
Anne Fischer is managing editor of Novus Media, a technology publishing firm that publishes Solar Novus and Novus Light, leading online B2B publications. She directs the editorial content of both publications, in addition to supervising news coverage and managing content and graphics for two bi-weekly newsletters. A seasoned journalist specializing in technology, Ms. Fischer has written for magazines, market research firms, and web sites including Fortune, PC World, and CNET. She has written three books on computers and technology and was managing editor of McGraw-Hill's BYTE magazine. She taught College Writing at Franklin Pierce University, and for ten years ran a communications/public relations firm. She is passionate about solar power and communicating its great potential.
Suzanne Shelton is president and CEO of Shelton Group, the nation’s leading marketing communications agency focused exclusively on energy and the environment. Her vision is that every home and building in America is energy responsible and that sustainability is ordinary—and she leads Shelton Group in creating a market advantage for the organizations that are creating that sustainable, responsible future. Shelton’s clients include Consumer’s Energy, Environmental Defense Fund, Kohler, CertainTeed Insulation, and ExxonMobil Chemical. She speaks regularly at conferences, guest writes for the likes of Fast Company, Green Builder, and GreenBiz, and has been quoted in Forbes, the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, and other top media outlets.
Allison Kopf is the founder and CEO of Agrilyst, a management and analytics platform for indoor farms. Agrilyst won the highly coveted Disrupt Cup at TechCrunch Disrupt 2015 in San Francisco. Ms. Kopf was recently named the 2016 Changemaker of the Year by the Association of Vertical Farming and Entrepreneur of the Year by Technical.ly Brooklyn. Prior to founding Agrilyst, she helped BrightFarms become one of the leading indoor agriculture companies in the US. Ms. Kopf serves on the boards of Santa Clara University's School of Engineering and Cornell University's Controlled Environment Agriculture program, and is a mentor with #BUILTBYGIRLS and Square Roots Grow.
As Senior Principal and Global Sustainable Design Director, Anica Landreneau leads the sustainable discipline and consultancy practice at HOK. Ms. Landreneau serves on HOK’s Board of Directors and Design Board, and is a past member of the Management and Marketing Boards. Ms. Landreneau works to make Washington, D.C. one of the greenest cities in the world by supporting the District in green building policy development and implementation, as well as authorship of several green building project management, design, operations, and permitting guidelines for the District. Ms. Landreneau is serving her second term on the District of Columbia Green and Energy Codes TAG, authoring high-performance building codes, and is appointed to the Mayor’s Green Building Advisory Council for a second term. Ms. Landreneau co-authored with the U.S. General Services Administration, “The New Sustainable Frontier: Principles of Sustainable Development,” and for the Saudi Arabian government, authored the “Sustainable Urban Planning Guidelines for New Growth in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”
Heath May is Director of HKS LINE (Laboratory for INtensive Exploration). An architect with 13 years of professional experience including commercial, hospitality, sports, and healthcare, he is currently focused on research and development (R&D), and the application of this research to the built environment. An avid interest in passive solar design encourages a current LINE research initiative into the potential for using software for dynamic solar design through analysis and implementation of data-driven parameters for optimization of complex facades for daylighting and solar performance. In addition to R&D, Mr. May leads a design team responsible for projects including “future: GSA,” a net-zero renovation design solution that earned the 2012 World Architecture News Commercial Building of the Year Award. He also worked as senior designer on the “Sustainable Urban Living” design project, a winner of the 2010 Chicago Athenaeum Green Good Design Award. In April of 2013, he was named recipient of Building Design + Construction’s 40 under 40. Mr. May currently serves on the Advisory Board at the PACCAR Technology Institute at the University of North Texas and is an advanced graduate design studio lecturer at University of Texas Arlington, CAPPA, School of Architecture.
Dr. Karma Sawyer is the Program Manager for the Emerging Technologies (ET) program with DOE’s Building Technologies Office (BTO). Dr. Sawyer oversees a diverse portfolio of R&D program areas, with the goal of developing cost-effective, energy-efficient, high-impact building technologies. Dr. Sawyer’s dynamic team supports the development of innovative solutions and technologies with partners across academia, national labs, small businesses, and industry in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC); windows and envelope, sensors and controls, solid-state lighting, transactive controls, and building energy modeling. Dr. Sawyer joined the ET team at BTO in 2013 as the technology manager for the Windows and Envelope subprogram, later taking the additional role as the Technology Analysis and Commercialization manager. Before becoming Program Manager, Dr. Sawyer was responsible for BTO’s Technology-to-Market Initiative, Small-Business Vouchers Program, the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center for Building Energy Efficiency, and the Partnership to Advance Clean Energy (PACE) joint R&D program with India.
Mary Ann Dickinson is the President and CEO of the Alliance for Water Efficiency, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the efficient and sustainable use of water in the United States and Canada. Based in Chicago, the Alliance works with nearly 400 water utilities, water conservation professionals in business and industry, planners, regulators, and consumers. In 2014, the Alliance won the U.S. Water Prize in the non-profit category for its work. Ms. Dickinson has more than 40 years of experience in water resources and water efficiency. A graduate of the University of Connecticut, Ms. Dickinson currently serves as Chair of the Efficient Urban Water Management Specialist Group for the International Water Association, past Chair of the American Water Works Association National Water Conservation Division, past President of the California Irrigation Institute, past President of the Lake Arrowhead Community Services District, and serves on the boards of the Green Building Initiative, Texas Water Foundation and River Network.
Gary Klein, President of Gary Klein & Associates, Inc. has been intimately involved in energy efficiency and renewable energy since 1974. One fifth of his career was spent in the Kingdom of Lesotho, the rest in the United States. Mr. Klein has a passion for hot water: getting into it, getting out of it, and efficiently delivering it to meet customers’ needs. After serving 19 years with the California Energy Commission, he has provided consulting on sustainability since 2008, with an emphasis on the water-energy-carbon connection. Mr. Klein received a Bachelor of Art’s from Cornell University in 1975 with an Independent Major in Technology and Society with an emphasis on energy conservation and renewable energy. The International Association of Plumber and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) recognized his efforts in 2014, presenting him their Green Professional of the Year award. In 2015, DOE awarded him the Jeffrey A. Johnson Award for Excellence in in the Advancement of Building Energy Codes.
Bill Wenk is founder and President of Wenk Associates, Inc., a Denver-based landscape architectural firm. For more than 35 years, Mr. Wenk has been influential in the restoration and redevelopment of urban river and stream corridors, the transformation of derelict urban land, and the design of public parks and open spaces. He is recognized nationally for utilizing stormwater as a resource. Mr. Wenk’s extensive portfolio includes a master plan for the reclamation of the 32-mile Los Angeles River corridor in California; green infrastructure planning and implementation for the redevelopment of abandoned railyards, and restoration of the Menomonee River in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and transformation of the South Platte River Valley in the heart of Denver into a mosaic of parks, open spaces and in-fill development. All projects focus on site and district-scale infrastructure systems that incorporate stormwater as a multi-benefit resource. He served on a National Science Foundation committee assembled to recommend revisions to Federal rules and regulations governing nonpoint source stormwater pollution.
Stephanie Tanner is the Lead Engineer for EPA’s WaterSense Program. She is responsible for all technical aspects of the development of labeled products, including setting efficiency and performance criteria, as well as managing the certification process. Prior to EPA, Ms. Tanner was a Senior Project Leader for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory where she managed a water efficiency program for Federal Facilities. She has written a number of guides to water efficiency for federal and institutional facilities as well as developed the goal and supporting guidance for Federal water efficiency under Executive Orders 13123 and 13423. Before her work in the efficiency sector, Ms. Tanner worked for the U.S. and German Navies and served during the First Persian Gulf War as a shipboard operating engineer. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Marine Engineering from the Merchant Marine Academy and a Master of Engineering Management from The George Washington University. Ms. Tanner is a LEED Accredited Professional in Building Design and Construction and a holds a Certified Energy Manager Certification from the Association of Energy Engineers.