Washington, DC [RenewableEnergyAccess.com] U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced that the Solar Decathlon will consist of 20 university teams — selected by DOE — competing on the National Mall in Washington, DC, to design, build and operate the most attractive and energy-efficient solar-powered home. This year, teams have been selected from the U.S., Puerto Rico, Germany, Spain and Canada.Beginning on October 12, teams will be judged in 10 areas encompassing architecture, engineering, livability, comfort, power generation for space heating and cooling, water heating, and powering lights and appliances. The Decathlon’s prototype solar homes are zero-energy, yield zero carbon, and will include the latest high-tech solutions and money-saving benefits to consumers, without sacrificing comfort, convenience, and aesthetics. Each house must also produce enough “extra” energy to power an electric car. An overall winner will be announced October 19. Advanced technologies on display will also include translucent walls used for day lighting; structural insulated panels for improved insulating value; solar heated floors; fiber optic cables attached to solar collectors to transmit light inside a house; and integrated solar photovoltaic power generation systems. The colleges and universities competing in the 2007 Solar Decathlon are Carnegie Mellon University, Cornell University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Kansas State University, Lawrence Technological University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, New York Institute of Technology, Pennsylvania State University, Santa Clara University, Team Montreal (ecole de Technologie Superieure, Universite de Montreal, McGill University), Technische Universitat Darmstadt, Texas A&M University, Universidad Politecnica de Madrid, Universidad de Puerto Rico, University of Cincinnati, University of Colorado, University of Illinois, University of Maryland, University of Missouri – Rolla, University of Texas at Austin. The Solar Decathlon is sponsored by DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, in partnership with its National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), which manages the event. Title sponsors are the American Institute of Architects, BP, Sprint, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, and the National Association of Home Builders. The Solar Decathlon complements President Bush’s Solar America Initiative, which seeks to make the solar energy cost-competitive with conventional forms of electricity by 2015.