At the Energiewendebauen Congress in Berlin on 29 January 2019, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy Thomas Bareiß announced that the Solar Decathlon Europe 2021 will take place in Germany for the first time – specifically, in Wuppertal. In another first, the competition will focus on the energy transition and climate protection in the heart of an urban district. The application stage for university teams starts in March.
Universities from all over the world, and their dedicated students in particular, have been taking part in the Solar Decathlon energy-efficient buildings competition for many years. Launched in the USA in 2002, the Solar Decathlon has now taken place 13 times around the globe, most recently in Dubai in November of last year. German universities have also successfully participated on several occasions. Since 2010, the European offshoot of the competition has focused on solar-powered "energy-plus" buildings. The Solar Decathlon Europe last took place in France in 2014; this year it is coming to Hungary.
Germany has long been committed to developing the content of the competition format further and is also leading the Competition and Living Lab Platform working group within the International Energy Agency (IEA). Against this background, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) last year launched an ideas competition within its EnEff.Gebäude.2050 funding initiative and subsequently received proposals for an energy-efficient buildings competition in Germany. The team comprising the University of Wuppertal (BUW), the City of Wuppertal, the Wuppertal Institute and the Utopiastadt ("Utopia City") initiative were awarded first place with their proposal Solar Decathlon goes Urban. This was the basis for the German bid to host the next Solar Decathlon within the European Call for Cities announced by the Energy Endeavour Foundation.
Now the result is official: in 2021, the Solar Decathlon Europe will take place in Germany for the first time – specifically, at the Utopiastadt Campus in central Wuppertal's Mirke district.
The Solar Decathlon goes Urban concept
Renovate, extend, build upwards and close gaps: these are the central architectural tasks of the energy transition in the neighbourhood. Resource efficiency, sufficiency, climate protection and recycling-friendly construction must also be taken into account. In addition to these structural and architectural challenges, the urban Solar Decathlon will focus specifically on the integrated and participatory development of the district and its buildings. The competition concept is part of a broad-based real-world laboratory in which various scientific and practical groups of stakeholders develop the criteria for the competition on an equal footing and put ideas for greater climate protection into practice. Based on real examples of renovation projects in the neighbourhood, different construction tasks in the existing building stock will be planned, implemented and monitored by scientists – from filling in gaps to extending upwards. In addition, 18 model projects are to be realised on the Utopiastadt Campus during the competition – including buildings that will be used in the longer term as part of one of North Rhine-Westphalia's Living Labs for social research.
"The direction taken by the Solar Decathlon is another exciting milestone in the development of Wuppertal into a leading urban testing location for sustainable future designs," says Professor Uwe Schneidewind, President of the Wuppertal Institute.
Wuppertal's up-and-coming Mirke district, with its lively and multicultural character and around 800 buildings, will provide the context for the challenge, and the open space within the Utopiastadt Campus will serve as its venue. The Wilhelmine-style neighbourhood is already known for exciting urban developments and has developed into a real-world laboratory with a reach that extends beyond the region. The creative cluster of the Utopiastadt initiative is based there, and an active civil society operates via Forum:Mirke. The University of Wuppertal, the Wuppertal Institute and the joint Centre for Transformation Research and Sustainability (TransZent) have been active in the area for a number of years by means of various participative and collaborative research formats and are very familiar with the local situation.
Applications open in March
The real-world solutions should make a key contribution on the journey to becoming a resource-efficient, climate-neutral city. This first Urban Solar Decathlon aims to encourage students to put their creative ideas into practice and to shape this journey in cooperation with industry and local stakeholder groups.
The international call for applications from university teams will be published in March 2019. The student teams will then have until the autumn to apply.
Wuppertal Institut für Klima, Umwelt, Energie gGmbH
Responsible for content: Professor Uwe Schneidewind, President
Contact: Christin Hasken, Head of Communications and Public Relations
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