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SDE Solar Decathlon Madrid 2010


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The Solar Decathlon is a competition organized by the U.S. Department of Energy that first gathered teams from mainly American universities. Teams were asked to design and build self-sufficient, solar-powered houses equipped with technologies enabling maximum energy efficiency. Their houses were built and exhibited at the “Solar Village” of the National Mall, Washington D.C., where they were evaluated and competed within ten different categories (Decathlon).

The Technical University of Madrid, which is highly committed to sustainable development, participated in three different editions of the American competition: in 2005 with the MAGIC BOX house, in 2007 with the CASA SOLAR and in 2009 with the BLACK&WHITE house. As a result of the active participation and commitment of the UPM, the Spanish Government and the American Government met at the CASA SOLAR and signed, in October 2007 (during the 2007 edition), a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). By virtue of this agreement, Spain would organize two editions of the competition in Madrid, where participant would come from mainly European universities. It resulted in the Solar Decathlon Europe 2010 and Solar Decathlon Europe 2012.

When the Spanish Government, through the Ministry of Housing, asked the Technical University of Madrid to organize these two editions of the competition, they specified two main objectives:

First, promoting innovation and knowledge so to improve the performance of systems, increase energy efficiency.

Second, taking advantage of the social and media interest aroused by the competition to make society, from children and youngsters to the general public, more aware of the importance of using energy responsibly. Improving the energy efficiency of our buildings, equipment’s, bulbs, etc., and developing ways to exploit renewable energies are, in short, ways of together creating a more sustainable world.

The first edition of the Solar Decathlon Europe competition was launched in 2008. It reached its final stage in June 2010: A Villa Solar was settled in Madrid in the surroundings of the Manzanares River, between the Puente de Segovia and the Puente del Rey. Seventeen universities reached the final stage of the competition, whose houses are presented and analysed in this book.

The University Teams competed within ten different categories (Decathlon) which were organized in five areas, after what the houses were attributed a cumulative mark out of a total of 1000 points (see figure above).

The contests focused on ten aspects promoted by the competition: The attribution of the 1000 points was based on objective quantitative measurements on the one hand, and on the evaluation of 6 juries formed by eighteen international experts on the other. Jury members evaluated the following aspects: architecture, engineering, solar systems, communications, industrialization and sustainability.

In order to fulfil the objectives above mentioned, more than 75 different activities were organized (during the competition and the months before). Activities were intended for all type of audiences and aimed at raising social awareness on various aspects related to a responsible use of energy, and conditions of sustainability for houses and cities. The outcomes of these activities couldn’t be more positive:

  • Hundreds of university students from various countries and continents were trained and informed about possibilities of improvement, as well as innovative architectural and technological solutions regarding energy efficiency and conditions of sustainability for buildings and cities.
  • More than 192,000 visitors attended the competition venue, therefore creating great opportunities for communication and raising awareness.
  • More than 268,000 persons from more than 157 different countries visited the website both during the previous months and during the competition.
  • More than 5,000 media entries were counted worldwide (about 2,000 registered in Spain); we estimate that more than 400 million people potentially accessed direct information about the event.
  • The competition was hard-fought and exciting until the very last minute. The ambiance was one of fairness and cheerful celebrations. The competition culminated in a very gratifying way, by enriching the experience all participants’ decathletes.


Louise Holloway
Energy Consulting Network

Building aspects

  • Building Energy Services
  • heating (only)
  • Building Energy Services
  • heating and cooling
  • Installed Renewable Energy Sources
  • hybrid collectors
  • Installed Renewable Energy Sources
  • photovoltaic - building integrated
  • Installed Renewable Energy Sources
  • solar thermal collectors
  • Technology used to supply the buildings
  • heat pump: absorption
  • Technology used to supply the buildings
  • heat pump: reversible

Thematic Field

  • New Building(s)
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Project data