Visitors tour the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011 in Washington, D.C., Friday, Sept. 30, 2011, with Arlington, VA, left, and the Lincoln Memorial, right, in the background. (Credit: Stefano Paltera/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon)

The Solar Decathlon (SD) is an international student competition. Universities from all over the world are challenged to design, build and operate solar powered houses. It is the only student competition worldwide addressing the performance assessment of realised buildings and not only its design. During the competition’s final phase, each interdisciplinary team assembles its house in a common Solar Village. The final phase includes a public exhibition, monitoring and ten contests (the reason why the competition was named a “Decathlon”).

The ten criteria on which the houses are evaluated

During the last editions of SD, the competition made some evolutions. Teams respond to a wide range of current issues in the housing industry by building innovative pavilions, rather than solar powered houses only. Within the new context of the competition, the Horizon project fits perfectly. This is why the research on the Horizon Project provides the basis for a participation in the next European Solar Decathlon competition. By participating this competition an interesting platform can be created in order to raise awareness for the issue of residential high-rise in private ownership. A pavilion will be used to clarify the issue and to show a sustainable and efficient solution to this complex question.

Negotiations and preparations for the next European Solar Decathlon competition are in full progress. More information can be found on the Solar Decathlon Europe website. Following is a brief summary of the preceding participations of Ghent University to Solar Decathlon.

SD Europesolar-decathlon-logo


E-CUBE 2011

In 2011, teams from universities and colleges in United States, New Zealand, Canada, China and Belgium were selected to compete in the fifth edition of the Energy Solar Decathlon in the United States (Washington, D.C.) to design and build an energy-efficient solar-powered house. The Belgian team of Ghent University participated in the competition with the E-cube, an affordable, do-it-yourself building kit for a solar powered house that is pre-engineered, factory-built, and easily assembled without special skills.

The house starts with a starter unit, which can be upgraded with enhancements to the PV system and interior workmanship as well as with extensions to the living space. This allows the owners to personalise the house according to their time and budget. Although not intended as a single solution for all people and lifestyles, the E-Cube provided Solar Decathlon 2011 visitors a unique insight into Belgian sustainable building design.



BEMANY is Ghent University’s team in association with the New York Polytechnic Institute and Worcester Polytechnic Institute, which participated in the first Solar Decathlon competition in Datong (China). The building, called Solatrium, focused on the special concrete tiling developed to optimize the house’s thermal performance.