Solar Decathlon Europe

Solar Decathlon Europe
The Solar Decathlon Europe (SD Europe) 2010 was created through an agreement signed between the Government of Spains Ministry of Housing and the United States Government, who committed to organize a sustainable solar architecture competition in Europe. In October 2007, both governments signed an agreement (a Memorandum of Understanding) as part of the Solar City framework of the Solar Decathlon 2007. Nineteen top universities from around the world were selected to participate in the 2010 competition, which will be held in Madrid. Their participation in the competition will undoubtedly serve to raise the visibility and prestige of those institutions.
This initiative touches on the priorities and objectives of both the European Union and the Spanish Government, including the promotion of and firm commitment to research and innovation applied to an issue of global strategic interest. Improvements will be made not only in energy efficiency, but also in sustainability in a sector that is as sensitive and important to the economy as construction.
Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)
When the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid was competing in the United States in 2007, an idea for holding a Solar Decathlon competition in Europe was born. The initial efforts of this University were supported by the Embassy of Spain in the U.S. and by officials from the U.S. Department of Energy. The result was the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the United States Government and the Government of Spain. In that agreement, the Spanish signatory - through the Ministry of Housing - committed to organize, with support from the United States, the Solar Decathlon Europe Competition, to be held in 2010 and 2012. The document specified that the European competitions were to be held in alternate years from those in America, indicated as being odd-numbered years (2009, 2011 and 2013).
The Agreement was made possible thanks to the special attention given to these topics by the Government of Spain, and by their determination to assume leadership in an international project with such broad technical, scientific, social and economic impact.
The Memorandum of Understanding was signed on October 18, 2007 in Washington DC, next to the Universidad Politécnica de Madrids Casa Solar, during that years competition. The American signatory was Alexander A. Karsner, Secretary-General of the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Department of the U.S. Department of Energy, and on the Spanish side, Fernando Magro Fernández, Undersecretary of Housing of the Ministry of Housing.
Objectives of the Solar Decathlon Europe
As with the original event, the Solar Decathlon Europe competition will be an international competition among universities around the world with the goal of advancing the knowledge and dissemination of industrialized, solar and sustainable housing. The competition will be held in Madrid in June of 2010. The 20 prototypes, designed and built by the participating universities, will be assembled and displayed there.
The competition has four basic objectives:
1. To raise awareness of the students participating in the competition of the various benefits and opportunities offered by the use of renewable energies and energy efficient construction, challenging them to think creatively about energy and how it affects our everyday lives.
2. To educate the general public about renewable energy, energy efficiency, and the technologies available to help them reduce their power consumption. The event also aims to raise societys awareness of the need for responsible energy use in home construction.
3. To encourage the use of solar technologies and to distribute them more quickly to the market, taking advantage of the interest generated by students, and to contribute to the development of energy efficient technologies and energy production, all of which is incorporated into an architecturally attractive house.
4. To clearly demonstrate that you can build high performance solar homes without sacrificing energy efficiency or comfort, and that they can be both attractive and affordable.
Undoubtedly, the Solar Decathlon brings prestige to the participating universities, because for them it involves the integration and generation of knowledge on the conditions of sustainable construction in an environmentally conscious world. The universities selected to participate in multidisciplinary work teams are led by a faculty advisor, a project manager and a team captain. The Ministry of Housing will grant financial support, estimated at 100,000 Euros, to each of the participating teams in order to facilitate the participation of the universities.
Solar Decathlon Europe 2010 offers students a unique opportunity for learning, taking theory and putting it into practice, and doing so through a very unique case study. Students working on the project will be challenged to use their ingenuity and innovation, and their capacity to design and build a prototype of an energetically self-sufficient house. In addition, they will learn about socio-economic constraints in order to ensure the viability of their project.