Solar Decathlon

Solar Decathlon is a group of UC Berkeley students including architects, engineers, and designers who are constructing a sustainable, net-zero home as part of the 2017 US Department of Energy Solar Decathlon competition.  


Recent Solar Decathlon competitors have placed emphasis on incorporating complex technology into their home. The UCB team wants to dial down on the bells and whistles to create a house that is ready for real people in the real world. 


Solar energy is central to the competition - yet it is also all about creative solutions to energy usage in homes. UCB Solar Decathlon team's home will incorporate extensive passive systems that use no energy to create a comfortable living environment.


UC Berkeley is known as a leader in research accross many fields. The team's home is priveleged to feature the final product of a long-term research project from UC Berkeley's architecture department.



Designed for the densely-populated areas of nearby Richmond, UCB's Solar Decathlon house will cater to those who live near Berkeley and will create an inclusive living environment.

About the Competition

“The Solar Decathlon is an international award-winning program that challenges collegiate teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive. The winner of the competition is the team that best blends affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency.”— U.S. Department of Energy

With a multiplicity of new and exciting political action regarding climate change, this US Department of Energy sponsored competition is gearing up to be one of the most exciting and influential Decathlons yet. After bold promises made in the 2015 Paris Climate Summit, richer countries have agreed to raise over $100 billion-a-year to foster climate change mitigation efforts. California building code will mandate all residential buildings ZERO NET ENERGY by 2020, and the US as a whole has outlined goals to cut power plant carbon emissions by 30 percent in the next fifteen years. These promises will invigorate the renewable energy industry, and the Solar Decathlon is a perfect showcase for these new technologies.

About the UCB Solar Decathlon Team

Our Team's Approach


The UCB team began by planning to address overcrowding and environmental issues in the marine climate of Northern California. While energy efficiency is a priority that is addressed by the competition, physical space is a major issue as the global population continues to increase. Currently, over half of the global population resides in urban environments, and this statistic will only increase in years to come. The previous Solar Decathlon concept of the "single family home" is no longer sustainable for cities in the bay area, so our team aims to provide a solution to this problem with our modular, stackable, and rearrangeable design. From single units to high-density complexes, this vision will kick-start a whole new architectural approach to the population and energy problems many cities face today.


The next cornerstone of our vision is the use passive technology. The UCB team's philosophy aligns with minimizing moving parts, reducing expensive technology, and eliminating wasteful practice. This prompted them to pull from the concept of Passivhaus. The team's foundation for efficiency begins with an integrative design approach to minimize energy usage first, before we even consider our solar envelope specifics. 


UC Berkeley's Solar Decathlon team consists of students with majors ranging from Civil Engineering, Architecture, and Environmental Design to Legal Studies, Media Studies, and Business. As their project is interdisciplinary in nature it brings together students from all fields to work on making this dream home a reality.

The Solar Decathlon at Berkeley is a way for students to get involved with the University's goal of increasing the sustainability of our campus by acquiring hands-on experience of what it means to build sustainably - in this case even with net-zero energy consumption. The competition is a direct student application of the work done by the Office of Sustainability. The Solar Decathlon Team is working directly with the Office of Sustainability and Energy in a variety of ways, including cross-beneficial communications and relationship building between students, staff and other community members.

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Get Involved

Interested in joining the Solar Decathlon team? Students on the team have a wide variety of majors - students studying fields outside of architecture and engineering are welcome to join. To contact the team, email

Sponsor the Team

The UCB Solar Decathlon team relies on the support of corporations and individuals alike. If your company would like to help them by providing material or financial donations, or if you are a professional who would like to mentor the team, please email them at