¡En sus marcas, listos, fuera!

Today marks the start of the inaugural Solar Decathlon Europe in Madrid, Spain. This 11-day solar home building competition, euro-sister to the biennial Solar Decathlon in Washington, D.C., is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy in partnership with the Ministry of Housing of the Spanish government. A close facsimile to the U.S. Solar Decathlon (check out my coverage from the 2009 event and an MNN photo slideshow), SD Europe features collegiate teams duking it out in 10 contests to see who can design and build the most attractive, livable, and energy-efficient solar-powered home.

Unlike the D.C. solar events that include homegrown teams with a smattering of Canadian and European entrants, Madrid’s 30,000-square-meter Villa Solar will host a more international assemblage of participants from Europe, Asia and the U.S. Another change is that there will unfortunately be only 17 teams in the running, not the normal 20, as Mexico, Brazil and Valencia had to drop out due to financial hardships. 

Even though I’d kill to be in Madrid right now, I’m glad that each team submitted a nifty short film that overviews the homes the teams have been designing for the past two years and have assembled at Villa Solar for the event. It’s not quite the same as being there but they do help …

Below, I’ve embedded videos from eight of the teams. Early next week, I’ll post the remaining videos from two countries with a formidable presence at SD Europe: Germany (the winner of the 2009 Solar Decathlon) and Spain (sporting a multitude of “home teams”). At the conclusion of competition, I’ll take a close look at the winning homes as well as my personal favorites. A good place to keep on top of all the daily events at SD Europe is the DOE's Solar Decathlon Blog

Finland: Helsinki University of Technology — Luuku House


Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

A solar showdown in Spain
Seventeen collegiate teams from 7 countries converge at 'Villa Solar' in Madrid for the first ever European installment of the Solar Decathlon.