Module at the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon®


Module’s own Ankur Dobriyal, Director of Off-Site Innovation, attended this year’s U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon® as a judge. While it was his second year judging this event, it was his first year being there in person. Last year’s event was virtual, due to covid.


So, what is the Solar Decathlon, anyway? This decathlon is a collegiate competition where teams of students are challenged to build high-performance, low carbon buildings that mitigate climate change and improve quality of life through greater affordability, resilience, and energy efficiency. The contestants are asked to present solutions based on real science and proof.


Ankur was one of four judges in the retrofit division and it was actually the first year that the retrofit division was included in the decathlon. Ankur mentioned that he was surprised at the diversity of the teams he was judging - one team was even from New Zealand. He also enjoyed the team that he judged with. Most of the judges had over 20 years of experience and he was impressed with how much knowledge they had about the industry.


The retrofit division judges


He saw a lot of really interesting projects that could really push energy efficiency forward in the housing industry. The only update that the judges collectively would make to the judging criteria is giving more points for feasibility and affordability. He said that while the country is going through an affordability crisis, housing shortage, and climate crisis, it’s important to take those issues into account when designing projects. That way, the projects can be scaled and actually implemented in a meaningful way.

The winning decathlon team


Ankur had a great experience at the decathlon and described it as feeling like he was back at college. He felt like he was being exposed to new ideas all the time and that he was learning constantly. He also appreciated that it was in-person this year, rather than virtual, and was excited to meet new people in the industry.