The first ever Solar Decathlon China collegiate design competition officially kicked off today with 22 teams representing 35 universities and 13 countries gathered to show off their awesome solar-powered home designs. The City of Datong went all out to prepare for the event, which is the largest the city has ever hosted, going so far as to build a whole new hotel where all of the teams have been staying for the last two weeks while constructing their homes. Already the competition is off to an excellent start; reportedly when Team Israel finished their work early, they went over to lend a hand to the team from London Metropolitan University and Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts.

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Originally started by the US Department of Energy (DoE) to encourage intercollegiate competition and sharing, the Solar Decathlon project first spread to Europe – last year it was held in Madrid – and now it has reached China for the first time. The US Solar Decathlon will be held in Irvine, California later this year. Dr. David Danielson, Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, is the US DoE’s official representative for the event, which kicked off at 9am in China this morning.

Each of the 22 teams will be judged on a daily basis according to a set of criteria, including engineering, architecture, market appeal, energy and water performance, its comfort zone and solar application, among others. At the end of each day, scores will be tallied, and winners in each category will be announced. The team with the highest score at the end of the competition wins! The final award ceremony takes place 11 August, 2013.

+ Solar Decathlon China