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Solar Decathlon 2013: Let the Building Begin

September 30, 2013 - 10:45am


Ever wonder what it takes to compete in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon? Over the next couple of weeks, we’re exploring how the Solar Decathlon 2013 teams’ energy-efficient, solar-powered houses went from idea to reality, and documenting some of the steps along the way in this two-year competition. Follow the series by visiting and see if you have what it takes to be a solar decathlete.

Orange County Great Park is a hive of activity as collegiate teams begin assembling their houses for Solar Decathlon 2013 on the paved runway of this former Marine base.

Last week, the teams -- made up of over 1,000 students from more than 25 schools from around the world -- started work on this year’s Solar Decathlon village. Over the course of nine days, students will work long hours to assemble their energy-efficient, solar-powered houses. From securing their foundations and installing their solar arrays to testing energy usage and decorating their houses, the teams have a lot of work ahead of them. Once the houses are complete, the teams will then compete in 10 contests over the course of nine days to gauge each house’s performance, livability and affordability.

During the next few days, we’ll be sharing photo updates from the competition site. Click through the snapshots above to see highlights from the first week of building, and check back tomorrow for more photos. Visit for daily reports from the building site.

For a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to compete in the Solar Decathlon, check out our Solar Decathlon 2013 blog series on