The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) will be hosting its sixth Solar Decathlon competition from October 3-13 in Irvine, California. Held at the massive Orange County Great Park, the competition pits teams of college students against each other to design and construct solar powered homes that are energy efficient, affordable and attractive. Juries of experts will judge the houses based on ten criteria, including how much hot water is provided and how comfortable the interiors are, to determine the winners.

The DOE held its first Decathlon in 2002, and puts one on every two to three years. It has been so successful in generating interest about solar energy and green living that many other regions of the world have begun holding their own competitions, and those students who participate often go on to experience rewarding careers in the green technology industry.

The goal is to promote clean energy and efficiency to those who compete as well as the general public, who can attend and tour the homes for free. The DOE hopes that those who see the homes can learn that a house that is built using efficient and sustainable methods and relies on solar energy can also be aesthetically pleasing and affordable.

Students from over 30 universities and several countries, including Canada, the Czech Republic and the U.S., will be taking part. The winners of the 2011 Decathlon, the University of Maryland, won’t be participating, but teams from the University of Southern California, Stanford University and CalTech are looking like strong competitors in this year’s event.

The Solar Decathlon serves as a reminder that California solar energy is not just cost effective, but makes financial sense, as the initial upfront investment is more than offset by tax incentives and energy savings. For more information, contact West Coast Solar today.