Solar Decathlon Europe 21

We live in the century of cities. More and more people live in urban areas. Demand for living space and resources are increasing. At the same time, protecting our climate is more important than ever. The way we deal with these issues today will determine what life will look like tomorrow. That’s why we urgently need to answer the following question: How will sustainable housing and sustainable living in the city work?

● © SDE19 | ÉMI Non profit Ltd.

SDE21: Solutions for the city of tomorrow

The Solar Decathlon Europe (SDE) is not an ordinary building competition. There are many ideas for sustainable urban development, and ideas need to be followed by action. This is the reason behind the principle of the SDE: ‘Design – Build – Operate’. Universities from all over the world meet to design, build and operate solar houses with equalized or even positive energy balance. 

The SDE21 hosts the Solar Decathlon Europe for the first time in Germany. Eighteen teams from eleven countries have qualified for the urban decathlon for sustainable building and living taking place in Wuppertal. They will not only develop innovative housing ideas, but will actually realise their designs, which will be fully-functional one- or two-storey residential houses.

Against the backdrop of climate change, the aim of the competition is to promote energy transition in urban settings. Funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, we wish to promote the goal of an almost climate-neutral building stock by 2050.

SDE21: Solutions for the cities of tomorrow

‘For the first time in its history, the Solar Decathlon Europe takes place in Germany. I am very happy that Wuppertal has convinced the jury with its innovative idea of an urban competition. I am sure that the teams will present ideas which will also be considered as examples for other cities and countries. This is energy transition in action.’

● Peter Altmaier, Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy © BPA / Steffen Kugl

empower­ment made in Wuppertal

In Western industrialised countries, urbanisation presents the particular challenge of optimising already-existing building stock (more on this here). In Germany, the population is especially increasing in mid-sized cities. For the first time, the SDE21 focuses on modernising existing building stock rather than on creating new buildings. With its 363,000 inhabitants, Wuppertal is the ideal venue for the SDE21. The city with the suspension railway is representative of many European cities and the urban challenges they face.

When designing the city of tomorrow, it is crucial to connect with people, their urban living conditions, and their individual needs. The international teams will therefore base their projects on existing building structures and socio-economic living conditions of local residents – taking either Wuppertal’s neighbourhood Mirke district or a neighbourhood in their own country as an example.

At the same time, the SDE21 actively supports empowerment. If, in the future, we want to have sustainable and climate-friendly cities that are worth living in, we need to work together on a local and a global level. 

That’s why the SDE21 Urban Research Team will provide a wide range of opportunities in Mirke district that residents can participate in. These include the real-world experiments on energy efficiency and on floor-space sufficiency, as well as the Citizens’ Panel. Furthermore, we will closely collaborate with schools and other local agents.

● © SDE21

● © SDE19 | ÉMI Non profit Ltd.

● © Wolf Sondermann

Be there live in Wuppertal!

Between 20 May and 2 June 2022 , the teams will leave their lecture theatres and head to the construction site on the Solar Campus at Nordbahntrasse in Wuppertal to build their full-scale (1:1) demonstrative units.

Starting on 11 June, visitors will be able to explore the location and various events of the SDE21 for a duration of two weeks. Our Solar Campus will become an open forum and public exhibition, with guided tours of the houses, run by the students who have designed and built them. During this period, the teams’ demonstration units and building designs will be thoroughly examined. A jury will determine the winner from a set of measurements and scores given in ten contests.

Be there live at our main event in 2022!

● Due to Covid-19, the main event of the SDE21 has been rescheduled from September 2021 to June 2022. ●

Our motivation to promote cities that are worth living in is the driving force behind the SDE21. The competition is organised by the SDE21 project team at the University of Wuppertal in cooperation with the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy, the urban initiative Utopiastadt, the Neue Effizienz GmbH, the local utility WSW and the City of Wuppertal. Join us and design your city of tomorrow! 

SDE21