>> THE WASHINGTON, D.C.-BASED U.S. DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY’S 2007 SOLAR DECATHLON challenged 20 university-led teams from around the world to design, build and operate an attractive, energy-efficient, solar-powered home. Taking place in October on the National Mall in Washington, students competed in 10 areas, such as architecture; livability; comfort; and energy production for space heating and cooling, hot water, lighting and appliances. Each house was required to produce enough energy to power itself and an electric vehicle. Teams spent more than two years designing, building and testing their homes.

Technische Universität Darmstadt, Darmstadt, Germany, took home top honors, earning 888.45 points out of a possible 1,200. The University of Maryland, College Park, came in second place with

872.45 points, and Santa Clara University, Calif., took home third with 860.8 points. Texas A&M University, College Station, was awarded the inaugural Student Choice Award. Competition homes are net-zero-energy, yield zero carbon and include the latest money-saving benefits to consumers that won’t sacrifice aesthetics, comfort and convenience. While congratulating the teams at the closing awards ceremony, Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman announced more than $44 million to support the commercialization and promotion of advanced solar and other clean-energy technologies. The funding is part of Building America, a private/public partnership sponsored by DOE. Building America conducts systems research to improve overall housing performance, increase housing durability and comfort, reduce energy use and increase energy security for America’s homeowners. For more information, including a complete list of teams and overall contest results, visit www.solardecathlon.org.