The WaterShed Solar Decathlon house, built by students from the University of Maryland, has taken first place in the design-build competition’s architecture category! And we are not surprised. Ever since we set foot on the National Mall, where WaterShed is currently competing with 18 other eco-friendly prefab homes, we have been ogling the house’s beautiful design, which was inspired by the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem. WaterShed’s design focuses heavily on water usage, incorporating constructed wetlands and a green roof that collects and filters the home’s greywater so it can be reused.

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In the Solar Decathlon, teams are awarded points in ten categories, with each category worth 100 points. WaterShed received an impressive 96 points in architecture, by far one of the biennial competition’s most-watched categories. It was a close call for sure and the top architecture winners were each only one point apart. New Zealand’s First Light house placed second with 95 points, and Appalachian State’s Solar Homestead took third with 94 points.

WaterShed has led the Solar Decathlon for most of the competition, scoring high in almost every category thus far. Purdue’s INhome jumped into the lead on Wednesday after the affordability results were awarded, but its traditional, suburban style couldn’t stand up to the other creative and inspiring homes in the architecture category. As a result, Maryland jumped back to the top of the pack, where it currently has the lead by 2.5 points.

The categories of Market Appeal, Engineering, Communications, and Energy Balance have yet to be tackled, so it’s too soon to say who will take the grand prize. But given Maryland’s super-success so far, we are betting that WaterShed will place among the top three.

Learn more about WaterShed in our photo gallery profile of the house.

You can vote for your favorite in the People’s Choice contest here.

+ WaterShed by the University of Maryland + Solar Decathlon + Inhabitat’s Coverage of the 2011 Solar Decathlon