This year’s SD Europe is a strictly American-free affair and there’s a decidedly less intimidating presence from the efficiency-obsessed Germans (two teams instead of four). The 20 qualifying collegiate teams converging once again on Madrid’s Villa Solar are an eclectic bunch that hail from 13 different countries and four continents. Naturally, there’s a handful of homegrown entrants, a smattering of teams from elsewhere in Europe, a team from Egypt, one from Brazil, one from China and one from Japan. Overall, it’s a touch more diverse than 2010’s competition in which only seven countries were represented. There's also a couple of return contenders.
Last week, the motley, fired-up assemblage arrived at the 38,350-square-meter Villa Solar in Casa de Campo and began assembling their solar-powered homes and preparing for the big event. The competition itself kicks off on Sept. 13 and runs through Sept. 30 when a winner will be announced.
If you’re not familiar with the SD Europe, it’s simply a more internationally flavored spin on its older — and recently relocated — American counterpart organized by the Department of Energy: Over the span of nearly two weeks in which Villa Solar is open to the public, the 20 teams will submit to 10 different contests both juried and measured to see which team has designed and built the most attractive, livable and energy-efficient solar-powered home. Or, in the words of the event organizers: “The objective of the participating teams is to design and build houses that consume as few natural resources as possible and produce minimum waste products during their life cycle. Particular emphasis is put on reducing energy consumption and on obtaining all the necessary energy from the sun.”
Each of the 10 contests — architecture, engineering and construction, energy efficiency, electrical energy balance, comfort conditions, functionality, sustainability, innovation, market viability, and communication/raising social awareness — is scored and the team with the highest number of points is declared the winner.