We’ve been sitting on the edges of our seats all day, anxiously awaiting today’s Engineering Contest results at the 2011 Solar Decathlon. The results were just announced, and we’re happy to report that Team New Zealand’s First Light House has taken the title! The team’s win is certainly well-deserved, and we admit we already found ourselves swooning over the design well before we even started touring the National Mall in last week. Built by students from the Victoria University of Wellington, the beach house inspired First Light home pays homage to the students’ gorgeous country with its locally sourced materials, ample windows and doors, and an invigorating smell of freshly cut cedar that lets you know you’re home.

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The Solar Decathlon awarded points within ten categories, with each category worth 100 points. Team New Zealand scored 93 points in the Engineering category, narrowly beating out SCI-Arc and Caltech’s CHIP House by just 2 points. Tennessee’s Living Light Solar came in third with 90 points.

The First Light House took a simple approach, underscoring the use of local materials, integrating the local environment and building from scratch. Inspired by the traditional New Zealand holiday home, the “Kiwi bach”, the front and back bi-folding doors allow for plenty of natural light to enter. The home also promotes energy-efficiency with a number of highly-effective, yet low-carbon impact features and fixtures, such as wool insulation (no shortage of this in NZ) and an innovative drying cupboard developed by LEAP Australasia Ltd that utilizes solar-heated water through copper tubes and a heat exchanger to dry clothes.

If you’re interested in learning more about this spectacular house, you can check out our in-depth coverage of the home here, and for full scoring details, you can visit the Engineering Contest scores page.

The categories of Market AppealCommunications, and Energy Balance are still up for grabs, so keep checking back with us to see who takes home the grand prize!

+ Team New Zealand’s First Light House

+ Solar Decathlon

+ Inhabitat’s Coverage of the 2011 Solar Decathlon