This international student competition on the National Mall will highlight innovation and the future of green jobs.

The U.S. Department of Energy announced this year’s participants and dates for the 2009 Solar Decathlon, a competition that challenges students to design and develop houses that can provide their own energy from sunlight. The 20 collegiate teams from the United States, Canada, Spain and Germany will each build a completely self-sufficient solar powered house, showcasing energy-efficient amenities and smart home systems that provide reduced carbon emissions without sacrificing the comfort of modern conveniences.

DOE’s Solar Decathlon, which takes place Oct. 9-18 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., consists of 10 individual contests that evaluate the teams’ skills in architecture, home design and communications. The homes constructed by the teams must produce enough electricity and hot water from solar panels to perform all the normal functions of a home - from powering the lights; to cooking, washing clothes and dishes; to powering home electronics; and maintaining a comfortable temperature. 

This year, a new net-metering contest will evaluate each home’s ability to produce its own power. The competition focuses on cutting edge energy efficient and renewable energy innovation while providing a unique green jobs training opportunity for each of the students.

The start of the competition marks the culmination of more than two years of hard work by the student teams. The 20 teams will assemble their homes on the National Mall in early October. Following the Opening Ceremony Oct. 8, the homes will be open for public tours Oct. 9-13 and 15-18.

This is DOE’s fourth Solar Decathlon competition since premiering in 2002 with subsequent competitions in 2005 and 2007. On average, each Solar Decathlon competition has drawn more than 100,000 visitors to the National Mall. For more information, visit www.solardecathlon.org.