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What is the challenge MIT has been asked to solve?

The United States uses about 97 quadrillion British Thermal Units (quads) of energy each year. The residential building sector accounts for about 21% (20.1 quads) of this use. And about 86% of total annual energy use in the United States comes from burning fossil fuels - coal, oil, and natural gas.

How much energy is this?  Ninety-seven quads of energy would fill 43 million railroad cars on a train about 417,000 miles long which would stretch around the world more than 16 times. If a fifth of this energy is being used by the residential building sector, greater energy efficiency achieved through sustainable architecture and building technologies will reduce the overall demand for energy, our effect on climate change, resource depletion and contribute to pollution control.

What is the Solar Decathlon?

The Solar Decathlon is an international competition in which teams of college and university students from across the United States, Europe and Canada compete to design, build and operate the most attractive, effective and energy-efficient solar-powered house.  Contest rules require that each house generate enough energy from the sun to operate a household, a home based business and related transportation needs.  The teams will assemble their homes on the National Mall in Washington in September, 2007 in a solar village and the public is invited to observe the powerful combination of solar energy, energy efficiency and the best in home design.

The Solar Decathlon challenges student competitors "Solar Decathletes" to think in new ways about energy and how it impacts our everyday lives, to show and tell the world what they have learned, and to push research and development of energy efficiency and energy production technologies.

The U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy sponsor the competition in partnership with its National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the American Institute of Architects, the National Association of Homebuilders, BP, the DIY Network and Sprint.

Why is MIT competing in the Solar Decathlon in 2007?

Because if MIT can't build a self-sufficient solar house, no one can!  MIT built the first house in America to be heated by the sun's energy on the present site of building 36.  Solar House II followed in 1947, Solar House III in 1949, Solar House IV in 1959, Solar House V in 1978 at 270 Vassar Street, and Solar House VI, the Dover House.

MIT Solar Decathlon Team

Who are we?  We are an interdepartmental team of Architectural, Engineering, and Business graduate and undergraduate students from MIT who are collaborating with academia and industry to design and build a completely solar-powered home.  The Solar Decathlon competition includes 19 other universities and colleges.  Each team is awarded seed funding over two years to support the Solar Decathlon's research goal of reducing the cost of solar-powered homes and advancing solar technology.

How will MIT meet the challenge?

During a 21 month period the Solar Decathlon Project will build on MIT's traditional strengths in cross-disciplinary activities and bring together various areas of research across MIT that have previously been separate.  Through collaborative workshop over three semesters, MIT undergraduate and graduate students from all disciplines will be involved in conceptualizing, designing and building a sustainable, energy efficient and marketable urban house that uses renewable energy.  The project will develop collaborative links with industry and be engaged with a sponsorship program.

How can I support the success of the MIT Solar Decathlon?

The MIT team actively seeks both mentors and sponsors in related industries.  This collaborative effort will showcase current energy products and may be an ideal platform to develop various technologies further in the goal to promote renewable energy for efficient homes and appliances.

The National Renewable Energy Lab will provide seed funding over the course of two years.  This initial funding will support the initial curriculum development and project production and prototyping expenses.  Over the next 12 months, an additional 400 thousand dollars in funding and in-kind donations of materials and services will be needed to bring this project from concept to installation on the National Mall in September 2007.


Promotion & Advertising

Media Coverage:  The Solar Decathlon traditionally receives International press coverage.  Included in these are several news programs, documentaries, and a dedicated program on the "Do It Yourself" (DIY) cable network.

Product/ Brand Exposure:  Thousands of visitors tour the model houses and are able to experience and learn about the benefits of various technologies.  The strategies integrated within the project provide brand recognition opportunities to a vast number of entities interested in this collaboration.

Partnering with Innovation

MIT is known for its innovative research, engineering and entrepreneurship.  This competition is a perfect example of the interdisciplinary approach of applying theory to real world problems.

We welcome you to be a partner in the innovation with the brightest minds among the MIT faculty and students dedicated to solar energy design for the Solar Decathlon 2007 and the future.

Shared Vision through Sponsorship

Your support will be acknowledged in many ways, as well a s within all digital media documentation and printed collateral material.  Beyond this, as a sponsor you and your company will have access to the process and implementation of various technologies that will benefit the project and the shared vision among all participants.


Department of Energy
National Renewable Energy Laboratory Solar Decathlon