For the sixth time, the United States Department of Energy has brought together some of the brightest collegians from around the world to build energy-efficient homes that people would actually want to live in.
The Solar Decathlon is a sight to behold: more than a dozen homes are built on-site with inspiring energy-saving technologies.
It was a scene I was able witness first hand when the competition was held in Washington, D.C. This year the competition moved to Irvine, California where, from what I can tell by the photos, the results were just as impressive.
The winner for 2013: Vienna University of Technology in Austria. The team's LISI (Living Inspired by Sustainable Innovation) home is powered by rooftop solar panels and generates more energy than it consumes in a year. But the competition isn't just about generating energy, the top team also has to build a house with consumer appeal that is affordable and has a good design. Among the other features include:
A modular wooden frame that makes construction quick and efficient,
An automated screen and awning system that cools living spaces,
A rainwater reservoir that waters the outdoor herb garden,
Two air-water heat pumps for space heating and cooling,
An energy-recovery ventilation unit that keeps indoor air fresh,
And a heat-recovering shower tray that reduces hot-water demand by one-third.
Take a look inside this beautiful home that also happens to be ultra-efficient.
More photos from the rest of the competition, here.
Photo: Jason Flakes/U.S. Department of Energy