Building Divisions

In the 2023-24 Challenge, participating teams will compete in one of five Building Divisions. These building types propose unique and critical building problems that India currently faces. The teams will collaborate with the industry to work on regional, yet cutting-edge solutions to these problems. Projects should comply with the byelaws, codes, and standards governing regulations such as ground coverage, setbacks, minimum room size, fire protection requirements, service locations and quantities, and other specific requirements. Here are the 5 building divisions in the 2023-24 Challenge:

Multi-Family Housing

Multi-Family Housing can range from affordable housing to high-end housing. It is projected to have exponential growth in over the next 20 years. At 24%, housing is the second largest electricity consuming sector in India. Affordable and mid-range housing will lead demand, supported by government policy. The need for cooling and energy will rise multi-fold in next few decades. Net-zero and resilient building innovations are needed for sustainable growth of this sector. This can also contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This Division can impact millions of people giving access to affordable homes, with clean and reliable energy, making a positive impact on their health and well-being.

Construction Worker Housing

Typically, construction workers are migrants and stay on-site anywhere between 3 months to 3 years in poorly constructed temporary shelters, without proper hygiene or comfort. These temporary shelters do not have stable electric supply and workers burn fossil fuels for cooking and heating. Meanwhile we expect large amounts of construction to take place in the next 3 decades.

All this warrants an approach to on-site housing for construction workers to provide hygiene and thermal comfort. This Division will focus on solutions that are modular, movable, and eliminate waste. They will be developed to be resilient, net-zero-energy, and net-zero-water.

Educational Building

An educational building may range from primary schools and high schools to college buildings. Access to clean water, education and infrastructure for children has been a challenge, where millions of children lack resources. Many classrooms in India are not able to provide the minimum level of thermal comfort, visual comfort, and clean air. When provided, the cost of construction and operation is high, resulting in high fees. Net-zero-energy-water educational buildings should ensure these at low CAPEX and OPEX and provide a resilient infrastructure for transitioning to the National Education Policy of 2020.

Office Building

An office building is defined as a complete commercial facility or a government and semi-government office complex with full fit and finish for the defined client(s). Commercial buildings have been one of the fastest growing real estate sectors. During 2019, the office leasing space reached 6 million m2 across eight major cities of India, registering a growth of 27% year-on-year. This building type consumed 8.4% of the total electricity in 2018-19. Accepted as an attractive destination for IT and BPO services and estimated to contribute 13% to the GDP by 2025, the sector will increase greenhouse gas emissions. Net-zero-energy office buildings can surpass the minimum requirement of the Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC) and dramatically reduce the energy consumption and carbon footprint while contributing to country’s National Action Plan for Climate Change (NAPCC).

Community Resilience Shelter

Community resilience shelters are managed and owned by the communities in the long term, although they may be built by the government. These multipurpose shelters may ultimately become a ‘community asset/resource’ and create a broader impact on the livelihood of the community. Community resilience shelters are used for emergency evacuation during extreme weather events like cyclones, floods, and earthquakes. They may be used to shelter disaster-affected people for short periods. Such a building should also house community service activities such as education, health training, and other income-generating social functions. Net-zero-energy-water solutions for these buildings makes them more resilient.

They could also serve as isolation centres at the community level during pandemics/ health crises such as COVID-19. We encourage teams to contact the State Disaster Management Authorities, local municipalities, or local development authorities to learn about planned and future projects.

Evaluation Contests

In Greek, ‘deca’ means ten, and ‘athlon’ means contest. A Decathlon in sports is an athletic event comprising 10 activities, where athletes compete by excelling in all 10 activities. Solar Decathlon India takes from this idea and has 10 contest areas. Each contest is a star in its own right and given equal weightage. The teams should excel in each of the contests to succeed. These contests will help the teams master the art of creating integrated net-zero buildings.

Here are the 10 contests that participants will be evaluated for in the 2023-24 Challenge:

Energy Performance

In a net-zero energy building, the total renewable energy generated annually on site should be equal to or more than the total annual energy consumption of the building. The capability of the building systems to interact with the electricity grid, with on-site or stored power is also important. A whole building approach including strategies to reduce loads, integration of daylighting and passive systems, efficient electric lights, and appliances is needed. 

Water Performance

In a net-zero water building, the total water consumption is equal to or less than the sum of harvested rainwater used, recycled water used, and the treated wastewater returned to a source available to the public. Strategies for reducing water consumption and techniques for on-site water recycling and reuse need to be implemented. 

Embodied Carbon

Embodied carbon emissions largely result from the burning of fossil fuels in the mining, extraction, processing, manufacture, and transportation of building materials delivered to the building site. Strategies to reduce embodied carbon in five building systems: roofs, walls, floors, structure, and fenestration are needed.


This contest evaluates the building’s ability to adapt to changing environmental conditions and the ability to maintain functionality in the face of stress or disturbance. Strategies that provide resilience against seismic, hydrometeorological as well as public health hazards are needed. These approaches should provide resilience during an event, after the event, and result in long-term resilience, in energy, water, comfort and food.


Teams are required to demonstrate right-sizing and, optimisation of systems to control the initial cost of high-performance buildings. Design strategies for obtaining economies in construction such as simplifying and integrating building assemblies and using local materials should be considered. Constructability in terms of the availability of materials, technologies, and labour is evaluated.

Engineering and Operations

This Contest evaluates the effective integration of high-performance engineering systems and understanding of building operation. Right-sizing and design of engineering systems help minimise waste of materials, equipment, and energy. Building systems, appliances, and features should be thoughtfully selected and integrated into the overall design.

Architectural Design

This Contest evaluates the architectural design for its creativity, integration of systems, and ability to deliver functionality and aesthetic appeal desired by the market or client. Cutting-edge energy-efficient building performance is better positioned to achieve market acceptance when integrated into architectural designs that meet the aesthetic, functional and operational expectations of the industry and consumers.


This contest evaluates application of innovative techniques, technologies, or business models through creative approaches to enhance performance in other contest areas. It requires the team to identify one specific problem in the region or the market and present one innovation as a solution to that problem. Teams should assess the readiness level of the technologies included in the solution.

Health and Wellbeing

This contest evaluates the building’s capability to provide thermal comfort and good indoor environmental quality, essential for ensuring occupant health and wellbeing. Passive design approaches can maximise annual comfort hours without the need for air-conditioning equipment. Teams should provide a comprehensive approach to indoor air quality that incorporates ventilation, filtration, dilution, and material selection strategies.

Value Proposition

The value proposition must describe and quantify the tangible and intangible benefits of their building solution. This should enable the Project Partner to understand why they should invest in the proposed solution, and the end users to understand why they should occupy the building.