The Solar Decathlon is an international competition created by the U.S. Department of Energy in which universities from all over the world meet to design, build and operate sustainable and high energy efficiency grid-connected solar-powered houses. During the final phase of the competition, participating teams assemble their houses in an expo area. Once assembled, the houses are open to the public, while undergoing the ten contests of the competition, which is why this event is called a Decathlon.
The Solar Decathlon Middle East (SDME) was created through an agreement signed between Dubai Water and Electricity Authority (DEWA) and the Department of Energy of the United States of America, in June 2015, to organize these sustainable solar house competitions in Dubai, in 2018 and 2020.
The Solar Decathlon Middle East offers students a unique opportunity for learning, taking theory and putting it into practice, and doing so through a case study. Students working on the project will be challenged to use their innovation capacity, and their ability to design and build an energetically self-sufficient solar house. The projects are developed by multidisciplinary teams, giving the students the opportunity to learn not only about technical issues but also about teamwork, communication skills, sustainable lifestyle, and socio-economic issues to ensure the viability of their project.
SDME 2020 – Seven Pillars
The Solar Decathlon Middle East 2020 organization has decided to focus on seven interrelated pillars for this edition: Sustainability, Future, Innovation, Clean Energy, Mobility, Smart Solutions, and Happiness. These pillars coincide with the goals of DEWA and the World Expo 2020 and shall be present in all the SDME 2020 houses.
SDME 2020 – Objectives
The objectives of the SDME 2020 are aligned with the goals of the World Expo 2020, the National Innovation Strategy of the UAE and DEWA’s Strategic Plan. These objectives are:
• To accelerate the future of sustainable buildings, exploring the possibilities of using breakthrough solutions and cutting-edge technologies to increase energy efficiency
• To educate the participant students on the benefits and opportunities offered when using renewable energy technologies.
• To promote research in the buildings, cities and clean energy as well as the collaboration between industry and academia.
• To encourage professionals from different industries to select materials and systems that reduce the environmental impact of buildings, optimizing the economic viability and providing comfort and safety of occupants.
• To raise awareness about responsible energy use, renewable energy, energy efficiency, and the technologies available that support reducing/optimizing energy consumption.
• To foster sustainable transportation.
• To promote architecturally attractive solar systems integration, through replacing conventional construction materials in the building envelope such as the roof, skylights or facades with solar technologies.
• To bring high efficiency architectural and engineering solutions for the Middle East climate.
• To demonstrate that high-performance solar homes can be comfortable, attractive and affordable.
• To demonstrate that an attractive and well-designed house can generate enough electricity to meet the needs of a household including transportation.