Solar Decathlon 2017


The U.S. Departement of Energy Solar Decathlon 2017 is an international competition. In order to win, students from universities around the globe have to design and build the best life-size scale, fully operational, solar-powered pavilion.

Launched in 2002 by the U.S. Department of Energy, the Solar Decathlon challenges collegiate teams to perform ten contests (hence the name, decathlon) to determine the overall winner.

The Swiss team has chosen to call their project “Swiss Living Challenge“, in allusion to the smart living lab, the new research center on the built environment of the future. The prototype will be built in the smart living lab’s experimental hall, on the blueFACTORY innovation site in Fribourg.

The Swiss team selected for the 2017 edition, is made up of participants from the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), the School of Engineering and Architecture of Fribourg (HEIA-FR), the Geneva University of Art and Design (HEAD) and the University of Fribourg (UNIFR). In the fall of 2017, the team will take its prototype to Denver, Colorado, where they will exhibit the design to professional juries and the general public.

The competition will occur from September 23th until October 20th and will be open to the public from October 5th to 15th 2017.

Some examples of houses built for the previous editions

After the competition, the pavilion will be brought back to Fribourg where it will be adapted to merge into the city. This pilot program has been designed to provide suitable answers to urban development issues and energy transition in Switzerland. The prototype will thus show our country’s ability to tackle issues related to the built environment of the future.

The 10 contests


Attractiveness and coherence of the architectural concept to integrate solar and energy efficiency seamlessly into the design.


Production of a level of comfort to keep temperature, air quality and humidity steady and uniform.


Architectural, economical and technical responsiveness of the house design to the characteristics and requirements of the target client.


Functionality and energy efficiency of the appliances used.


Evaluation of the pavilion’s structure, envelope, technical systems and energy systems.


Ability of the pavilion to be a home. How well it accommodates the pleasures of living, such as sharing meals or taking a warm shower.


Creativity and efficiency to communicate the project’s message and identity to the audience.


Water management in the pavilion and at a neighbourhood scale in order to decrease its consumption and respect its life cycle.


Use of cutting-edge technologies to reduce the environmental impact.


The pavilion should make at least as much energy as it consumes and should limit its impact on the grid.