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.

2021-22 Winners announced

On May 9th, the Winners of Solar Decathlon India 2021-22 were announced!

The finalist teams presented their whole building solutions with passive and active strategies to meet the cooling demand and proposed interesting innovations to achieve efficiency. Some of the innovations that impressed the jury includes mobile applications with e-user guides and ongoing performance feedback for users, radiant heating using biogas, noise-absorbing panels, solar water desalination systems, and bamboo charcoal water filters.

Find out who the winners are here.

Finalists get the opportunity to secure internships

At a virtual internship fair during the Design Challenge Finals, 29 companies interacted with the finalists to hire them as interns. These companies are top organizations working towards sustainability and climate action. During the internship fair, the finalists shared their profiles and had video chats with the companies, to secure internships and kickstart their careers in the clean energy field.

Check out the list of companies here.

Design Challenge Finals 2022

A successful Finals event on 8th and 9th May 2022!

For over 9 months, the students have put in immense hard work to design real net-zero projects and make a difference in the building sector in India. At the Design Challenge Finals, it was their time to shine. At the Design Challenge Finals, 34 finalist teams presented their net-zero building designs to expert jurors from the building industry. There were some inspiring speeches, winner announcements, and countless net-zero innovations and technologies! Watch the event live on YouTube.

Another successful year

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. They put in immense hard work to design real net-zero projects and make a difference in the building sector in India. At the Design Challenge Finals, it was their time to shine.

On May 7th and 8th 2022, 34 finalist teams presented their net-zero building designs to expert jurors from the building industry. Watch the event live 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.

Watch 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.

Watch them speak 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.

Watch 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 how important it is for students to get exposed to multidisciplinary learning and how outdated the current education system is. 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 jurors are experts in the building industry and have vast experience working on net-zero and efficient building projects. The finalist teams presented their final designs to these Division juries on May 7th. The winners of the 6 Divisions then presented to the Grand Jury, composed of experts from the real estate industry and a media expert.

There was also a jury panel that reviewed the movies submitted by the teams and presented the Best Move 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.

Finalists and their work!

In the 2021-22 Challenge, 35 teams emerged as finalists and competed for the Division Prize in the 6 Divisions. These teams collectively worked on 35 real net-zero building projects with solutions that are scalable, market-ready, and can make a real-world impact. The designs submitted by many of the teams were found to reduce water consumption and recycle up to 80% of greywater, onsite. The solutions minimised energy consumption while providing thermal comfort to occupants. They presented the final work of their live building projects to the jury at the Design Challenge Finals. Check out their final reports here.

Movies made by the Finalists

The 34 finalist teams showcased their net-zero projects in 3-minute long movies about thier 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.

Solar Decathlons US-India Global Meet-up

Solar Decathlon US-India’s first virtual Global Meetup was held on November 17th, 2021! Alumni from Solar Decathlons in the USA and India came together, network and talked to like-minded individuals about current research, practice and market trends related to topics such as future of cooling, renewables and grid interactivity, resilience and net-zero-water, and affordable scalable buildings.

Check out the brochure here.


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, there is no place on earth that will escape the impacts of climate change. It has become immediate and personal to all of us. Developments are COP26 has cemented the 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.

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Faculty Development Programme for Faculty Mentors

A virtual Faculty Development Programme was held on September 17 and 18 for Faculty Leads and Advisors of teams registered in the 2021-22 Challenge. The programme discussed how faculty mentors can become future-ready educators and mentors to students interested in becoming leaders for net-zero. The event had experts talk about guiding students to innovate and solve real-world problems to combat Climate Change.

Check out the brochure here.

Alumni present at US-India Clean Energy Partnership event

The event celebrated Solar Decathlon India and recognized the efforts of students and the industry for innovating climate change solutions in the building sector.  Solar Decathlon India alumni Khushi Daxini and Nathulal Suthar Team Ferb talked about their educational building from the 2020-21 Challenge and their use of kinetic facades and radiant cooling systems to achieve efficiency.

Read about the event in the release from the Department of Science and Technology here.


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.

Paving pathways for a Zero-Carbon future

MacArthur Foundation has provided outstanding support to Solar Decathlon India to enable real and market-ready innovation from 1100+ students and 150+ faculty mentors working towards decarbonizing the construction sector in India! Moutushi Sengupta describes Solar Decathlon India’s role in establishing a resilient and carbon-neutral pathway for buildings in communities in India.


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.


“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