Beginning September 19, fourteen teams began building their houses along the Mall in Washington, D.C. Colorado was named as the winner on October 5. In between, the houses competed in ten contests ranging design to refrigeration and lighting. Each house also had to generate enough electricity to power an electric car.
The Colorado team, led by team advisors Michael Brandemuehl and Julee Herdt, worked to design a house that would appeal to everyday home buyers. As a result, they sacrificed some usual elements of experimental solar homes, such as a roof oriented to catch the sun at the optimum angle.
The other competing schools were: University of Virginia (second place), Auburn University (third place), University of Puerto Rico, Texas A&M, University of Delaware, University of MissouriRolla and the Rolla Technical Institute, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Crowder College, University of Texas at Austin, Carnegie Mellon University, Tuskegee University, and University of Maryland.
The Solar Decathlon was organized by the U.S. Department of Energy, and was judged by a panel that included architects, engineers, and builders.