The U.S. Department of Energy has announced that twenty teams have been selected via a proposal system to compete in the 2007 Solar Decathlon, an international competition in which students design, build, and operate highly energy-efficient, solar-powered houses. Each of the teams will receive $100,000 over the next two years, and, in 2007, will build and demonstrate their houses on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The students are judged in 10 categories, including one for lighting.

'The next generation of leaders will have an opportunity to shine as they compete in the 2007 Solar Decathlon,' said Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman in a prepared statement. 'Supplying enough clean, affordable energy to fuel the world's growing economies is one of the great challenges we will face over the coming years. By helping expand the use of solar energy technologies, the participants will help meet that challenge.'

The following schools have been selected to compete:

California Polytechnic State University, CA
Carnegie Mellon University, PA
Cornell University, NY
Georgia Institute of Technology, GA
Kansas State University, KS
Lawrence Technological University, MI
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MA
New York Institute of Technology, NY
Team Montreal (?cole de Technologie Sup?rieure, Universit? de Montr?al, and McGill University), Canada
Technische Universit?t Darmstadt, Germany
Texas A&M University, TX
The Pennsylvania State University, PA
Universidad de Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico
Universidad Polit?cnica de Madrid, Spain
University of Cincinnati, OH
University of Colorado, CO
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, IL
University of Maryland, MD
University of Missouri-Rolla, MO
University of Texas at Austin, TX

Contest rules require that each house generate enough energy from the sun to operate a household, a home-based business, and related transportation needs. Like its Olympic equivalent, the Solar Decathlon includes 10 'events,' based on a points system, seven of which focus on energy efficiency and the rest of which revolve around design and comfort. The team that accumulates the highest point total wins. Though scoring hasn't been set for 2007, it will probably be similar to 2005, in which all contests, including lighting, were worth 100 points, with the exception of architecture, which was worth 200 points.

The Solar Decathlon takes place every other year; the 2005 overall winner was the University of Colorado. The inaugural competition took place in 2002.

The long-range goal of the Solar Decathlon project is the development and demonstration of solar-powered homes in which, by the year 2015, whole-house energy cost will be reduced to $0.10/kWh.

Read Architectural Lighting's coverage of the 2005 competition.