Implementing Zero Energy Design with the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon

Amanda Kirkeby, Zachary Peterson, Rachel Romero

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Decathlon®Design Challenge is a collegiate competition that challenges student teams to design high-performance buildings that push the boundaries of the industry. In the 2020 Design Challenge, DOE piloted the Design Partners Program, a low-risk opportunity for builders and building owners to harness student innovation and explore zero energy design for current or upcoming projects. Design Partners provide a student team of architects and engineers with project requirements. By the end of the Design Challenge, Design Partners receive a zero energy design alternative and cost estimate for their project. The collaboration allows Design Partners to incorporate innovative concepts such as grid-interactivity, resilience, and low embodied carbon in a lowrisk environment. It also provides the future generation of engineers and architects with invaluable experience designing a building for a client under real-world circumstances. This paper summarizes the current policy, technology, health, and economic trends that make zero energy buildings desirable and feasible, and presents the value of the Solar Decathlon to industry. We highlight innovative solutions 2020 Design Partner pilot projects are bringing to the building industry.

Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages4
StatePublished - 2020
Event2020 AEE World Energy Conference and Expo, WEC 2020 - Virtual, Online
Duration: 1 Dec 20204 Dec 2020


Conference2020 AEE World Energy Conference and Expo, WEC 2020
CityVirtual, Online

Bibliographical note

See NREL/JA-5R00-79827 for related journal article

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-7A40-78417


  • buildings
  • Solar Decathlon


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