Is the Solar Decathlon still relevant? The short answer is “yes,” but probably not for the reasons the United States Department of Energy intended, according to an opinion piece on Arch Daily's web site.

Although solar energy generation is still the primary component of the competition, it is not what most of the teams chose to highlight, according to the article. And while contests that involve hosting a movie night or powering an electric car demonstrate the viability of solar-powered homes, they do not necessarily encourage innovation in the use of renewable energy sources. This year’s Solar Decathlon provides a venue for some cutting-edge architectural thought, and as always, the accomplishment of all of the participating teams is impressive. But the solar aspect of the competition has become an afterthought, writes David Douglass-Jaimes.

Why doesn’t the U.S. Decathlon follow the European model and turn its 2017 round into an urban showcase, complete with student-driven solutions for sustainability and resiliency at the urban scale? Why not reward students for thinking “outside the box” of individual dwellings and illustrating larger ideas of walkability, transit, food, water, and energy in integrated systems?

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