Sunny Southern California is set to break out the photovoltaic panels as the U.S. Department of Energy prepares to host the 2013 Solar Decathlon in Orange County, CA. This marks the first time in history that the event will be held outside of Washington, D.C. Twenty collegiate teams will design and build solar-powered homes at the Orange County Great Park from October 3-13 – and each project will be striving to score the highest marks in efficiency, consumer appeal and architectural excellence. In preparation for the event, representatives from the 20 teams visited Orange County this week to take part in workshops and briefings for the competition.

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For the Solar Decathlon, each team spends about two years on their projects to compete in ten contests. This year, the participants will travel to Irvine, California to take part in the series of juried and measured events. Their homes will be evaluated on such aspects as affordability, market appeal, engineering, architecture, aesthetics, and design inspiration. While at the park, the teams will also take part in a weekend of workshops held by officials from the U.S. Department of Energy and National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The public will be invited to view each structure free of charge from 11am-7pm daily.

During their visit to the Orange County Great Park this week, representatives of each team were briefed by U.S. Department of Energy officials on the National Renewable Energy Laboratory on the competition.

The Solar Decathlon began in 2002, and has been held every two years since. The homes entered in past competitions are now located in sites around the world, primarily within in the United States. Hoping to help publicize and promote the idea of integrated, whole design, the Decathlon hopes to reduce environmental impact by encouraging enlightened architecture and technology.

+ US Department of Energy Decathlon

Via Clean Technica