The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) is helping sponsor the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011, a program that challenges collegiate teams to design, build and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient and attractive. This year's Solar Decathlon will take place on the National Mall's West Potomac Park in Washington, D.C., from Sept. 23 through Oct. 2.

"NAHB is proud to be part of a program that promotes training and education of the next generation workforce of the home building industry," said Chairman of NAHB's Energy Sub-Committee Chip Dence, a home builder from Victoria, Texas. "The students should be commended for their outstanding work, and we hope that many of them go on to have successful careers working on sustainable and energy-efficient housing and design."  

"The Solar Decathlon depends on the valuable support of our many sponsors," said Richard King, director of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon. "Our sponsors play an integral role in ensuring that the Solar Decathlon provides a rich learning experience for the student decathletes and that we effectively educate the public about the money-saving opportunities and environmental benefits presented by clean energy products and design solutions."

In support of the Solar Decathlon program, NAHB also enabled students from the competition to showcase models of their Solar Decathlon entries during the last NAHB International Builders' Show. Additionally, NAHB will provide students at the top three winning colleges with free NAHB Student Chapters memberships through the Home Builders Institute (HBI), NAHB's workforce development arm.

The Solar Decathlon is open to the public and is free of charge. Visitors will have the opportunity to tour the houses, gather ideas to use in their own homes, and learn how energy-saving features can help them save money. Student teams will be judged on 10 criteria to gauge how well the houses perform and how livable and affordable they are. The winner of the competition is the team that best blends affordability, consumer appeal and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency. For more information on the Solar Decathlon,