The student competition Solar Decathlon requires the participating teams to develop a completely solar-supplied residential building. More than 250 houses have already been built in the 13 competitions so far. They are all full of a spirit of research, comparable and well documented. A freely accessible online database now offers an overview and the framework for a systematic evaluation of innovations and results.
According to the principle "Design - Build - Operate" about 20 student teams from all over the world design and build houses in each Solar Decathlon, which they present and operate during the event phase for two weeks at a central competition location. All houses in a competition must meet the same requirements in terms of size and function. During the presentation, energy consumption and solar energy supply are measured and various other parameters are evaluated. This creates a comparability that is unique worldwide and a significant potential of the Solar Decathlon.
The "Building Energy Competition & Living Lab Knowledge Platform" (www.building-competition.org) was developed at the University of Wuppertal as part of a research project to make better use of this potential. The online database in English makes the large amount of information on past and upcoming competitions accessible and brings them into a uniform structure. This not only ensures central archiving, especially of the competitions in Europe, but also allows a summary evaluation and comparison.
In the database every previous and also every future Solar Decathlon is structured according to the same scheme. Besides the extensive data, documents and photos of the teams and houses, the respective competition framework is also documented. The essential information of the individual buildings is stored in master data sheets, so-called fact sheets. Information from the fact sheets can be exported for a competition. The assignment of tags enables analyses with regard to technologies used, building performance and materials.
Access and use
The database is freely accessible on the Internet. To users who are not logged in, only selected content is visible. Teams, organizers and scientists can register, thus opening up further, in each case different possibilities of inspection and processing.
The database will also be an essential tool for the EBC Annex 74 "Competition and Living Lab Platform" of the International Energy Agency IEA, which was launched in 2018. Under German leadership, building scientists from all over the world develop the existing competition formats and Living Labs and also discuss new concepts in order to achieve the greatest possible public impact in the field of sustainable buildings.
The student competition Solar Decathlon was first held in the USA in 2002 and is intended to inspire the general public for the topic of energy-efficient, solar construction. Three competitions have so far been organised in Europe. In 2019 the next Solar Decathlon Europe will take place in Hungary. In the meantime, Solar Decathlon is also available in China, Central America, the Middle East and Africa. The competition series are organized independently of each other. Basics and goals are the same, the concrete requirements differ in details.