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The Solar Decathlon: Bringing Sustainable Building Competition to Latin America

The city of Santiago de Cali, in partnership with EMCALI, Dagma, CVC, EPSA, Universidad del Valle, and the FES Foundation, is proud to host the most important international competition for sustainable building in the world. In December 2015, the Solar Decathlon will take place for the first time in Latin America and the Caribbean, challenging universities from around the world to design and build innovative, sustainable homes using clean energy technologies.

As the first Solar Decathlon in the region, projects will be adapted to meet the unique climate needs of the tropics and respond to the pressing need for affordable, sustainable housing solutions. This event will promote regional strategies in line with Colombia’s recently enacted Law 1715 of 2014, which aims to promote the development and utilization of renewable energy sources for sustainable economic development, greenhouse gas reduction, and energy security.

The Solar Decathlon LAC2015 will focus on four key themes:

  1. Sustainable Social Housing The Solar Decathlon LAC2015 will provide a dynamic space for developing proposals and constructing real solutions that positively impact the community, taking into account the social and economic inequalities faced in the Latin American and Caribbean region. Projects must be able to house a minimum of five family members and demonstrate that solar technology can be implemented in affordable housing for the general population.
  2. Density Future construction projects will need to consider density as a critical design characteristic, given the impact of mass migration to urban areas. Therefore, projects participating in the Solar Decathlon LAC2015 must be at least three stories high and provide 200 units of housing per hectare, in addition to specifying the distribution of blocks, public areas, and amenities from the introductory phase of the competition.
  3. Rational Use of Environmental Resources Most people in Latin America and the Caribbean live in the tropical zone, facing solar radiation emissions throughout the year and exceptional availability of water sources. Teams participating in this version of the competition must take advantage of the region’s natural wealth, ensuring an environmental balance that guarantees the permanent availability of these resources.
  4. Regional Relevance The Solar Decathlon LAC2015 aims to develop ideas and technologies that benefit the region’s inhabitants. While projects designed based on conditions in the participants’ home countries will be welcome, the central focus of the competition is to present proposals that adapt to the cultural, economic, and climatic conditions of the tropical zone. This will ensure that the prototype is functional at the competition site and that the full-scale project meets the needs of locals, including but not limited to the principles mentioned above.

In conclusion, the Solar Decathlon LAC2015 is an excellent opportunity for the Latin American and Caribbean region to showcase sustainable building solutions that address the critical need for affordable housing and promote the rational use of natural resources. This event supports regional development strategies and encourages the utilization of renewable energy sources for sustainable economic growth, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and ensuring energy security.