The 2011 Solar Decathalon student design-build competition is on and the Inhabiteam had a chance to explore the innovative solar-powered homes that are currently duking it out at the National Mall in Washington DC. We marveled at the design students’ ingenuity and their drive to create the best prefab solar homes on the planet, showing the public that solar power can be accessible, affordable, and as architect and Solar Decathlon judge Michelle Kaufmann said, “inspiring”. Watch our exclusive video to check out all of the striking exteriors, ingeniously designed interiors and hidden secrets — think, moving walls!

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Team Massachusetts and Team China wowed us with their fancy sliding / movable walls while the SCI-Arc Caltech team wooed us with their Kinect lighting and home entertainment controller. Watch the video and then check out Inhabitat’s posts from this year’s Solar Decathlon to learn more about the individual houses.

You should also stay tuned to the Solar Decathlon website as the action unfolds daily. Yesterday Team Watershed from Maryland jumped into first place pushing out the suburban Purdue home that had been leading the pack all week, and now, today, Purdue is back in first place! At this point the field is wide open, competition is fierce and we’ll be bringing you all the action here.

+ The Solar Decathlon

+ More Inhabitat Solar Decathlon Coverage

Music by The Shortsleeves