The Solar Decathlon is a biennial competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy uniting twenty teams of college students to design, construct, and operate the most energy efficient, functional, and attractive solar-powered home. In an event that draws over 125,000 spectators, teams bring their entries to the National Mall in Washington, DC, to compete in ten contests ranging from energy balance to marketability. Santa Clara University has participated in the competition in 2007, 2009, and 2013.

The School of Engineering's participation in the Solar Decathlon competition is just one example of our role in innovating solutions to energy challenges, and our belief in the value of project-based learning. By seating the responsibility for a positive outcome with the student team from the outset, we provide an opportunity for them to learn and lead and surpass even their own expectations. In both the 2007 and 2009 contests Santa Clara University took third place!

The 2007 Ripple House is now a permanent fixture at The Forge Garden, SCU's 1/2 acre organic garden that serves as a campus space for course research, service learning, and sustainable food production.

The 2009 Refract House is located on campus and is instrumental in the School of Engineering's renewable energy initiative. After taking a break from the competition in 2011 to celebrate our Centennial, Santa Clara University again participated in the 2013 event, which was held for the first time in Irvine, California.


Theses/Dissertations from 2013


Structural design of the 2013 Santa Clara University Solar Decathlon 'radiant house', Katherine McKenzie and Mey-Ling Leon