POWER HOUSE nZEC & Solar Decathlon Europe

The challenge: ‘future proofing’ our homes!


The task of future proofing homes for European citizens was taken in hand by Housing Europe members. Public, Cooperative and Social Housing providers are working together to meet the challenge of balancing social and ecological goals with limited financial resources available. Whilst the situation varies throughout the European Union, in some cases, the cost of constructing housing which meets ambitious energy performance requirements exceeds the standard cost price in the sector.


Higher costs are a result of more complex building concepts and systems, the use of alternative materials and procurement procedures. In order to meet these challenges, the Public, Cooperative and Social Housing sector must innovate and identify ways to keep costs down during the construction or refurbishment process and to look for innovative approaches, concepts and building techniques that make the realisation of nearly-Zero Energy Buildings simpler and more affordable. Bringing together technical and economic feasibility and securing affordable housing is key to the 'fair energy transition' towards nearly-Zero Energy Buildings.

What is Solar Decathlon Europe?

Solar Decathlon is an international academic architectural competition initiated by the U.S. Department of Energy in 2002. The competition is open to universities and institutions of higher education worldwide and gives students an opportunity to compete by meeting a challenge: to conceive, design and build a full-scale, entirely functional house, using only the sun as its power source.


Solar Decathlon aims to improve education and research in the fields of sustainable architecture and solar energy. The competition also represents an opportunity to increase public awareness of the houses of tomorrow and to present the materials, products and technologies that could be used to build them. 


A European edition of the Solar Decathlon (SDE) now takes place every two years. It was first held in 2010 and in 2012 in Madrid, Spain. In 2014 the Solar Decathlon Europe was hosted by the city of Versailles, France.

The cooperation with the POWER HOUSE nearly-Zero Energy Challenge!

Having seen the challenges described above, Housing Europe, in the framework of the POWER HOUSE nearly-Zero Energy Challenge initiative, teamed up with both the Solar Decathlon Europe 2012 edition in Madrid and the 2014 edition in Versailles in order to tap into the inspiration and motivation of the World’s best architectural schools in its quest towards innovation within the Public, Cooperative and Social Housing sector.

The First POWER HOUSE nZEC Symposium held in Madrid in 2012 represented an excellent opportunity for POWER HOUSE Partners on the one hand, to introduce the nearly-Zero Energy Challenge to the broader public and explain what Public, Cooperative and Social Housing providers mean by a ‘fair energy transition’, and, on the other hand, to take stock of the work done by the POWER HOUSE TaskForces.

The Second POWER HOUSE nZEC Symposium held in Versailles in 2014 focused on the challenges that cities of tomorrow will be facing in the near future with the aim to discuss with local authorities’ representatives and housing experts about how Public, Cooperative and Social Housing providers should contribute to address these challenges and secure a ‘fair energy transition’.

On both occasions, a Team of Jurors, coordinated by Housing Europe, composed of high-level Housing Experts, evaluated the proposed projects and awarded the 'Housing Europe meets Solar Decathlon Europe Award' to those that were considered more suitable for replication by Public, Cooperative and Social Housing providers from all across the EU, according to a series of criteria previously identified. 

Lower Banner