Stevens Institute of Technology Wins Solar Decathlon 2015

stevens solar decathlon
Stevens Institute of Technology took first place in both the Architecture and Communications Contests at the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2015. | Photo by Thomas Kelsey, U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon

Stevens Institute of Technology of Hoboken, NJ, took first place in both highly competitive Architecture and Communications Contests at the U.S. Department of Energy Decathlon 2015. Stevens’ SURE HOUSE is a sustainable and resilient house for shore residents vulnerable to extreme weather conditions that could cause flooding and blackouts.

For the Architecture Contest, collegiate students from around the world were judged on the design and construction of attractive, high-performance houses that integrate renewable energy systems and energy-efficient technologies. The Communications Contest rated each team’s effectiveness in communicating the features of their house and the students’ experiences during this project to jurors and the public through a variety of media including websites, audiovisual presentations, displays and tours.

“We’re excited to present both these prestigious awards that represent the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon’s top honors for architecture and communications to the Stevens Institute of Technology,” said Richard King, the program’s director. “The Solar Decathlon prepares students all across the country with the skills and knowledge they need to design energy-efficient buildings that cut carbon pollution and help mitigate climate change.”

The Solar Decathlon involves 10 contests – each worth 100 points – that evaluate affordability, market appeal, architecture, engineering, communications, comfort, appliances, and the level of energy produced versus energy consumed, among other competition aspects. Each contest is worth 100 points – for a possible total of 1,000 points.

Stevens Institute of Technology earned 96 points to win the Architecture Contest.

“The Stevens design stacks up very favorably against many homes designed by seasoned architectural teams, and in fact outstrips the vast majority of U.S. houses when it comes to energy performance,” said Architecture Contest juror Ann Edminster, a leading international expert on green homes and chair of the Green Building Task Force for the Commission for Environmental Cooperation of North America. “The love of community that drove this design inspired a highly effective collaboration, in turn giving rise to an exceptionally well-integrated final product that will benefit both the occupants and their larger community.”

Clemson University, South Carolina, claimed second place with 95 points, and California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, California, took third place with 94 points. Full details on the Architecture Contest results are available at

For the Architecture Contest, the jury focused on:

  • Architectural concept and design approach – including a clear concept; coherence among architectural, structural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing and landscaping elements; and a sense of inspiration.
  • Architectural implementation and innovation – such as scale and proportion; holistic and integrated design; occupant comfort; material quality, detail and implementation; and innovation.
  • Documentation – including drawings, construction specifications, and an audiovisual presentation that accurately reflect the constructed project on the competition site.

In the Communications Contest, Stevens Institute of Technology earned 91 points to win the contest.

“The most successful teams told a story, not just about their house, but about their community, their team and the people intended to occupy their house,” said Mark Walhimer, one of the contest’s jurors and owner of Museum Planning, LLC. “The students demonstrated an impressive level of planning including messaging and branding, staying consistent regardless of the media. These teams paid attention to the details that presented communications that were extremely professional, well thought-out, polished and practiced.”

Clemson University finished second in the Communications Contest with 90 points, followed by the University of Buffalo, the State University of New York, in third place with 89 points. Full details about the Communications Contest results are available at

Communication skills are critical to helping the public understand the practical applications of energy-saving technologies and how products available today can help households save money. A jury of communications professionals awarded Communications Contest points to teams for the quality, creativity, delivery and innovation of their outreach documentation, onsite tours and educational strategies. The jury evaluated communication strategy, electronic communications, public exhibit materials and public exhibit presentations.

The teams currently in the overall lead for Solar Decathlon 2015 are Stevens Institute of Technology; University of Buffalo, State University of New York; and California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Clemson University jumped from seventh to fourth place in the overall rankings.


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