1st Edition

Solar Decathlon Building a Renewable Future

    590 Pages 135 Color & 363 B/W Illustrations
    by Jenny Stanford Publishing

    590 Pages 135 Color & 363 B/W Illustrations
    by Jenny Stanford Publishing

    This book is an inspirational story about how an idea got started, hit the ground running, and took flight. Solar Decathlon (SD) was a response to the need for innovative solutions to address a global problem—climate change. Richard King believed a collegiate competition that encouraged creative ingenuity could help transform traditional ways of designing and building houses. His idea was to motivate students to work together to craft unique sustainable, net-zero energy dwellings. Competing teams would display their prototypes in a single location as an educational showcase to the public. Following the inaugural competition and recurring events in Washington, DC, SD spread to multiple locations around the world. This historical narrative with stunning photos is a comprehensive source of information about the inception, development, and growth of Solar Decathlon.

    1. Call to Action

    2. Competitions as Motivators and Educational Tools

    3. Moving Mountains to Carry the Torch

    4. The Dream Unfolds

    5. Expectations Surpassed

    6. Europeans Take Up the Charge

    7. Newfound Momentum

    8. International Expansion

    9. The Multiplier Effect


    Melissa DiGennaro King, who has been director, content expert, and program manager in non-profit organizations and for-profit companies, holds a PhD in science education. She has developed and promoted award-winning online and hybrid multimedia learning products from pre-kindergarten to grade 12 and served as adjunct professor at the University of Virginia, George Mason University, and Kaplan University as well as teacher, mentor, and curriculum specialist in Virginia public schools. She is a writer, published author, and certified master gardener who supports horticulture education in her local community. She has played an active role in SD competitions in the U.S. and abroad.


    Richard James King, CEO of Creative Energy LLC, is founder of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon and consultant for international SD events. Previously, he was program manager for the Photovoltaics R&D program during his 30-year career at U.S. DOE. Mr King has been at the forefront of award-winning competitions all over the world and director of seven Solar Decathlons in the U.S., which included more than 20,000 participating students from 128 teams at 170 universities. Mr King promoted and helped organize international expansion of SD in Europe, China, South America, the Middle East, and Africa. These events with teams from more than 35 countries, have inspired thousands of students and visitors. In 2010, Solar Decathlon won a distinguished “Civic Innovator Honor Award” from the National Building Museum.

     “Once in a while, there are events that take place in the world, amongst all the other events of our everyday lives, that change us completely. These events introduce new visions for the future that change both those involved in the making of the event, as well as those who have the privilege of participating in what the event presents to the world. This is unequivocally the case for the Solar Decathlon. The book you have in your hands right now gives access to what I can only refer to as the phenomenal happening called the Solar Decathlon—a gathering every two years of collegiate teams from around the world in competition with one another to create the most innovative and beautifully designed self-sustaining house of the show.”

    Sarah Susanka, highly acclaimed architect, bestselling author, and Solar Decathlon juror

    The deep change that Solar Decathlon started in architecture and building science lies in the methodology—the competition showcases everything that needs to be done in architecture and design to create adapted living spaces. The brilliant idea is to put together ten contests into one competition to evaluate ideas and concepts through a wide-angled design-build process. Students who have experienced that are transformed. Some of them have testified that they learned more in two years than during all their student life.”

    Pascal Rollet, award-winning professor of architecture, faculty advisor for Solar Decathlon teams, and director of SDE 2014