University of Maryland Wins Architecture Contest at Energy Solar Decathlon 2011

The University of Maryland Sept. 28 took first place in the highly competitive Architecture Contest of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011. For the Architecture Contest, collegiate students from around the world are judged on the design and construction of attractive, high-performance houses that integrate renewable energy systems and energy-efficient technologies. Dennis Andrejko, representing the American Institute of Architects, presented the award in front of an audience that included government leaders and Solar Decathlon student team members.

“We are thrilled to announce this prestigious award during a special ceremony on Capitol Hill,” said Richard King, director of Solar Decathlon for the U.S. Department of Energy. “The Solar Decathlon lets today’s leaders see firsthand the innovative spirit of tomorrow’s clean energy workforce.”

Maryland earned a score of 96 out of a possible 100 points. Architectural juror Michelle Kaufmann, who has been called “the Henry Ford of green homes” by the Sierra Club and is a former associate with the office of Frank O. Gehry, said, “The Maryland home achieves an elegant mix of inspiration, function and simplicity. It takes our current greatest challenges in the built environment–energy and water–and transforms them into opportunities for spatial beauty and poetry while maintaining livability in every square inch. This is what the Department of Energy Solar Decathlon is all about.”

New Zealand (Victoria University of Wellington) claimed second place with 95 points, and Appalachian State University took third place with 94 points. Full details on the Architecture Contest results are available at

The Solar Decathlon challenges collegiate teams from around the world to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are affordable, highly energy efficient, attractive, and easy to live in. The competition involves 10 contests that gauge each house’s performance, livability and affordability, and provides unique training that has prepared approximately 15,000 students to become the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs in clean energy technology and efficient building design. The teams currently in the overall lead for Solar Decathlon 2011 are Maryland, Ohio State, and Purdue, respectively.

For the Architecture Contest, the jury evaluated the houses on the following criteria:
Architectural elements – including the scale and proportion of room and facade features, indoor/outdoor connections, composition, and linking of various house elements.
Holistic design – an architectural design that will be comfortable for occupants and compatible with the surrounding environment.
Lighting – the integration and energy efficiency of electrical and natural light.
Inspiration – a design that inspires and delights Solar Decathlon visitors.

Documentation – including drawings, a project manual, and an audiovisual architecture presentation that accurately reflect the constructed project on the competition site.
The Solar Decathlon’s overall winner will be announced on Saturday, Oct. 1, at 2:30 p.m. The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon is open to the public through Sunday, Oct. 2. The houses are open for free tours each weekday 10 a.m.-2 p.m., and on weekends 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

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