Born on paper around 2000 in the halls of the U.S. Department of Energy, the Solar Decathlon luckily made it beyond the stage of paper-tiger-lost-in-bureaucracy. It is, as far as we know, the biggest student-run building competition in the world. U.S. soil has been home to six competitions since 2002. The University of Colorado took first place both in 2002 and 2005. TU Darmstadt ‘hijacked’ the U.S. competition twice in 2007 and 2009 before the Solar Decathlon Europe was established in Madrid.

The University of Maryland took the price back to the U.S. in 2010 before Canopea of Grenoble, France proved the Solar Decathlon really is not a German-American setup (2012). Since 2013 there is a Chinese edition as well, and an Austrian team won in Washington last autumn. The French organisers continue to shift the focus of the European competition from maximum production to minimum consumption — a desire expressed in the six focal points of this year’s edition.