UMD to Participate in U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2017


Terps return to the competition arena to defend two-time winning streak.

The U.S. Department of Energy has named the University of Maryland one of 16 collegiate teams to participate in the prestigious U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2017. The international competition, held biannually since 2002, challenges collegiate teams to design, build and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy efficient and attractive.


“We are thrilled to once again pair with our peers in engineering, landscape sciences and other disciplines to create this unique, interdisciplinary experience in sustainable design education for our students,” said David Cronrath, Dean of the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. “The future of our built environment relies on exercises like the Solar Decathlon, which provide a venue for experimentation, discovery and innovation, and that lead to sustainable, net-zero settlements for the future.”


“The Solar Decathlon showcases the unbelievable talent that our students bring to hands-on challenges,” said Darryll J. Pines, Farvardin Professor and Dean of the A. James Clark School of Engineering. “Our solar-powered houses are built on a strong educational foundation and nurtured by creativity, team building and grit. This is a formula students will use again and again to solve society’s intractable problems.”


Prior to each U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon, teams spend two years planning and constructing their entries—energy-efficient, net-zero dwellings that harness the power of the sun. Teams rely on an interdisciplinary mix of faculty, students and professional mentors with a range of expertise, including architecture, engineering, plant sciences, information technology and communications. The 2017 Decathlon, whose competition site has yet to be announced, will include teams from the United States, Switzerland and the Netherlands. For the first time in the competition’s history, teams will be competing for $2 million in prize money.


UMD’s team will be led by three Principal Investigators: Raymond Adomaitis, a professor of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering who is also appointed in the Institute for Systems Research; Michael Binder, a lecturer from the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (MAPP); and Garth Rockcastle, a professor and former dean at MAPP.


This is the university’s fifth time participating in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon. UMD earned a finalist spot in 2005 with LEAFHouse and came back to take first place overall in 2011 with WaterShed, a Chesapeake Bay-inspired home lauded for its dual focus on both solar energy efficiency and water conservation. WaterShed currently serves as a sustainability education center for the utility company, Pepco.


The team’s progress can be followed at:

Posted on February 11, 2016 by Maggie Haslam