"An important objective of the Solar Decathlon is to prove that homes containing solar and energy-efficient design and technologies are market ready and belong in the world’s diverse neighborhoods. Experts from the building industry will compose the jury for this contest. Judging will take place early in the week of contests and will not be influenced by the objectively measured technical performance of the houses."
- Competition Contest Regulations, pg. 5
An important objective in the sustainability initiative is to develop technology and systems that are attractive to the American family's aesthetics, comfort and budget.
A sustainable solar home should carry its energy load by both producing its own energy and reducing its energy requirements. A solar decathlon house will use photovoltaics to generate electricity that is used immediately on home appliances, stored for later use, or can be sold back to the city's supplier.
The home should also reduce its energy demand by improving efficiency and taking advantage of architectural design to utilize other natural resources -- solar heating and lighting and natural ventilation for cooling and fresh air -- that are both renewable and free.
The ideal home should generate at least 100% of its required energy, even during peak usage, saving the homeowner monthly energy costs and possibly earning money from a net positive production. Monthly bills for heating, gas, and electricity should disappear, and the capital cost of the home's photovoltaics should be offset in a reasonable time frame.
A good home should not only be affordable, efficient and economical, but pleasing and comfortable to its residents and their guests. The home should be easy and inexpensive to manage and repair, as well as adjust to fit different lifestyles. Residents should feel confident that their house is dynamic and unrestricted by its design, and free to rearrange living spaces to suit their needs and interests without disrupting the sustainability strategy. Sustainability should not take away from the comfort and aesthetics of a home, but add to it through unique design and an increased connection to the natural world.