Solar Decathlon India, what’s it all about?

Net-zero buildings, that’s what it’s about!

Solar Decathlon India is a challenge for postgraduate and undergraduate student teams from Indian institutions to join forces and combat Climate Change. Student teams design net-zero-energy-water buildings, contributing to real projects, while partnering with the leaders in real estate development.

Solar Decathlon India enables students to explore innovative and affordable market-ready solutions. This is the resilient and carbon-neutral way forward for our sustainable buildings and communities.

Building Divisions

This year, teams can participate and compete in one of the 6 building divisions. Each division represents a unique building problem faced in India, and is critical to be addressed for sustainable development in the built environment. The teams will work on innovative and regional solutions for a building in the division of their choice and compete for the Division Prize. Read more about the building divisions here.

Testing and prototyping

Solar Decathlon India provides an opportunity to develop interesting and innovative ideas.  Students can develop them, test them and build models. The workability of their ideas can be tested by building working prototypes. Team Ecolution in the 2020-21 Challenge developed a working prototype of their shading device and analyzed wind patterns in their building.

See the work done by the finalists in the 2021 Challenge here and the 2022 Challenge here.

Crash course on Building Science 

Participating teams have the opportunity to become experts in Building Science. The teams will get access to online Self-Learning Modules on building science, energy efficiency, water sufficiency, cost estimation, resilience and much more. Completing the modules according to the schedule, will help participants make best use of the learning, and apply it in their real building design projects. Read more about these modules here.

DesignBuilder

DesignBuilder makes building performance simulations easy. It contains a suite of state of the art performance analysis tools in an easy-to-use interface, trusted by engineers, architects and energy assessors the world over. Teams who register get access to DesignBuilder to test their design ideas.

Click here to see how the teams used simulations in the 2020-21 Challenge.

 

Evaluation Contests

Solar Decathlon India participants will be evaluated based on 10 contests. Each contest will help participants understand and develop expertise on specific concepts related to net-zero buildings. The teams should excel in each of the contests to succeed. In the 2022-2023 Challenge, a new contest called embodied carbon is included to address the carbon emissions from the production of construction materials.

Read more about these contests here.

Green job opportunities 

Finalist teams have access to internships and placement with companies leading the charge on sustainability and climate action. In the 2020-21 Challenge, 29 such organisations offered internship opportunities to finalists in a virtual Internship fair during the Design Challenge Finals. Check out the list of companies that were part of the fair.

Contact us at uday [at] solardecathlonindia [dot] in if you want to hire seasoned candidates capable of putting net-zero buildings together.

Technical Webinars by expert practitioners

Solar Decathlon India participants have access to a series of recorded webinars by expert practitioners who provide case studies and best practices from their professional experiences. Webinars on soft skill topics such as movie making, report writing, and communication are also available. Teams have the chance to interact with the webinar experts at live sessions, ask questions and go deep into the subjects with the industry experts.

Read more about the webinars here.

Become a Project Partner

Each participating team in Solar Decathlon India partners with a building owner or developer whose project they will work on. These Project Partners can take up a leadership role to change the future of our buildings and communities by joining the Solar Decathlon India effort. In the 2021-22 Challenge, 67 real Project Partners collaborated with students to make their buildings net-zero energy-water and climate resilient.

If you want to become a Project Partner, register your interest here.

Summarising the 2021-22 Challenge

After 9 months, we wrap up another successful year. This year, over 1300 students and 165 faculty mentors from 103 institutions across India participated and worked on 99 real building designs. At the Design Challenge Finals, they presented their work to the jury, and the jury appreciated their hard work. The finalists also got access to the internship fair to secure placement opportunities with companies working on climate action.

Watch their presentations on our YouTube channel.

Keynote: Free cooling from the sky

At the Design Challenge Finals, Aaswath Raman, UCLA, TED speaker, and founder of Skycool Systems, delivered the keynote address. He spoke about a nanotechnology material he invented, that remains cool even when the air temperature is extremely hot. He shared his experiences in taking such a concept from an academic world into the real one, and how important it is to keep in mind the groups that would use the technology the most.

Listen to his speech here.

Division Winners speak

On 8th May, the winners of the 6 divisions were announced by the Division jury. The team leads from the winning teams expressed their excitement after winning and talked about their journey in the challenge and the support they received from their team and faculty mentors. The winning teams then went on to pitch their projects to the Grand Jury and competed for the Grand Prize.

Listen to them here.

Remarks by the Mission Director USAID

Veena Reddy, Mission Director, USAID/India, addressed the young leaders at the Design Challenge Finals. She gave an inspiring talk to the students about the importance of their work and how crucial their role is in building a climate-friendly future.

Listen to her speech here.

Faculty and Alumni speak

Faculty and alumni from the 2021-22 Challenge participated in a panel discussion moderated by Satish Kumar, President and Executive Director of AEEE during the Design Challenge Finals. The panel discussed the importance of exposing students to multidisciplinary learning and the outdated nature of the current education system. The panelists also pointed out the role played by programmes like Solar Decathlon India in this process of revamping the structures.
Watch the panel discussion here.

Jury members of 2021-22

Meet the jury panel that picked the winning teams at the Design Challenge Finals 2022!
The finalist teams presented their final designs to these Division juries, and the Division winners presented to the Grand Jury. There was also a jury panel that reviewed the movies submitted by the teams and presented the Best Movie Award.

Find out more about the jury here.

Jury impressions of the 2022 submissions

The jury members of Solar Decathlon India were quite impressed by the students’ ideas and put forward some very insightful suggestions. In a panel discussion moderated by Aromar Revi, Director of IIHS, they noted that students should aspire for industry-ready concepts, which are tested as well, in addition to simulation and technology. Also, temperatures are going to rise in the future, and concepts should aim for 15 years ahead, they added.
Watch the panel discussion here.

Movies made by the Finalists

The 34 finalist teams showcased their net-zero projects in 3-minute long movies about their projects. They weaved interesting narratives from the point-of-view of the inhabitants and used graphics and visual renders to explain the design and spatial features of their buildings. They competed for the Best Movie Award and the People’s Choice Movie Award.

Watch the movies here.

ECEEE

Paper on Solar Decathlon India in the ECEEE Summer Study

This paper published in the European Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ECEEE) Summer study discusses the results from the Solar Decathlon India challenge where young professionals collaborate to innovate and combat climate change by designing net-zero buildings.  The paper talks about how the challenge supports India to lead with commitment and innovation in achieving the SDGs and the National Action Plan on Climate Change.

Read the paper here.

Game on, Climate Change!

According to the Global Climate Risk Index 2020, no place on earth will escape the impacts of climate change. It has become immediate and personal to all of us. Developments at the COP26 have cemented a global commitment towards net-zero, and the building sector has a responsibility.

Read this article by Prasad Vaidya on the Solar Decathlon India and find out how buildings can become a significant part of the solution.

Submit your blogs to uday [at] solardecathlonindia [dot] in 

SDGs

Contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals

Solar Decathlon India contributes to 11 out of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Through their projects, participants increased access of communities to clean energy, water, sanitation and waste management. Their projects increased access to affordable, good quality and resilient housing. Their buildings operate on renewable energy, and use rainwater and treated wastewater to reduce stress on freshwater sources. Their designs also keep inhabitants safe and ensure that critical operations function during disasters.

“Publish the 5 final entries [of the Community Resilience Shelter Division] in a journal and present it to the National Disaster Management Authority as a ready-to-use playbook.”
L Venkatesh, Director, Invicara

We are learning different approaches to sustainability. Our project partner Navira has the Saptha Patha concept of sustainability including land, people and food, whereas our industry partner, Passive House Institute based in Germany, have a different approach to how they deal with resilience.

Ramya Kannan, Participant, School of Planning and Architecture, Vijayawada

With the self-learning modules, the faculty got involved, and even the team members who were not part of the decathlon team showed interest because there was so much knowledge being shared through the modules. We were able to update ourselves with the latest technology.

Minny Sastry, Faculty, RV College of Architecture

I am very impressed by the team and I will take it away and implement their work. They have helped us reduce the cost by 30% and this makes it even more attractive as a design

Manu Gupta, Co-Founder, SEEDS India

This competition differentiates itself from any other competition that I have been in, because through this we have an opportunity to make real-world impact. I never thought I would approach people and companies outside in the first few years of my professional life, let alone as a college student.

Vikram Srikanth, Participant, Manipal Institute of Technology

Honestly speaking, I like the design that they have presented more than what we have for the building right now. The direction which the team is taking is very much in line with what the industry is taking.

Guruprakash Sastry, Regional Head, Infosys

This is a great initiative, as very rarely do students get an opportunity to work on a live project. The learning is immense. Solar Decathlon India is creating a great bridge that is bringing together academia, the industry and the practical experience.

Neha Kulkarni, Visiting Faculty, Sushant University