Mark your calendars: The US Department of Energy Solar Decathlon -- America’s premier collegiate competition that challenges students from around the world to design, build and operate highly energy-efficient, solar-powered houses -- will open Oct. 8 in Irvine, Calif. Click here for a case study on one of the projects, a net-zero modular home that also conserves water.

Here, the Solar Novus web site has a video about what to expect during the showcase of cutting-edge building techniques and products:

Sixteen collegiate teams involving more than 2,000 students from 27 schools are deep into construction, assembling their innovative houses on or near their campuses. In less than three months, the students will transport and open those houses to the public in the Solar Decathlon village, where they’ll demonstrate just how affordable, attractive and comfortable these zero-energy homes -- homes that are so efficient that a solar energy system can offset all or most of their energy consumption -- have become.