The results of the 2011 Solar Decathlon have just been announced, and the winner is University of Maryland WaterShed house! The beautiful water-conservation themed house has been leading the competition pretty much since the first day that the Solar Decathlon kicked off, taking first place in the architecture contest and scoring in the top five in almost every contest; from engineering to communications. The WaterShed Home, which was inspired by the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem, has been battling it out with 18 other eco-friendly prefab homes built by collegiate architecture & engineering teams on the National Mall for the biennial design-build competition to see who can build the best solar-powered home. While harnessing the sun’s energy is obviously the highlight of the Solar Decathlon, the uniqui WaterShed House design also focused heavily on water usage, a characteristic that no doubt helped it win first place in this esteemed competition.

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The top 6 homes in the final standings were as follows:

1. Team Maryland – WaterShed House 2. Team Purdue – INHome 3. Team New Zealand – First Light House 4. Team Middlebury – Self Reliance House 5. Team Ohio – enCORE House 6. Team SCI-Arc/Cal-Tech – CHIP House

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, and the house did not score less than 87 in any category. It was pretty obvious yesterday afternoon that WaterShed would take first place, as the team was nearly 15 points ahead of the team in second place, Ohio State’s enCORE house.

It’s easy to see why WaterShed took home the top prize. The team from the University of Maryland made a conscious effort to make the home as sustainable as possible, incorporating much more than just a powerful solar array. The home has constructed wetlands and a green roof that collects and filters the home’s greywater so it can be reused, and an edible garden is planted on the deck to provide the residents with food. WaterShed is built with locally sourced wood, and a patent-pending University of Maryland student designed liquid desiccant waterfall helps control humidity.

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

+ WaterShed by the University of Maryland

+ Solar Decathlon

+ Inhabitat’s Coverage of the 2011 Solar Decathlon