Teams representing 19 colleges and universities from the United States, Canada, and Europe will showcase their solar-powered demonstration houses when the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon 2013 opens for a 10-day run on October 3 in Irvine, California.The biennial competition was launched in 2002 and until this year it had taken place on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. For this year’s Decathlon, the Department of Energy (DOE) sought proposals from cities around the country and eventually selected the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, a 1,300-acre former Marine Corps air station. The park offers enough room to expand the Decathlon to include a clean-energy exposition called XPO.The competition typically includes 20 teams, but the Department of Energy said Tidewater Virginia had dropped out.Entries this year represent mostly U.S. universities, but also the Czech Republic, Austria, and Ontario and Alberta in Canada. Solar Decathlons also took place this year in China and Europe. Competing in 10 different areasTeam entries are judged in 10 different areas, including architectural appeal, marketing appeal, engineering, communications, affordability, indoor comfort, and energy consumption. Teams are awarded points in each area, either by completing a specified task, by monitored performance, or by jury evaluation.The DOE wasn’t specific about exactly how many teams applied to the Decathlon this year other than to say that by the time the 2011 event was wrapping up “more than 40 hopeful teams” were already at work preparing proposals for this year’s event.They created draft design plans and assembled other information that was reviewed by a panel of engineers, scientists, and building experts. Winning teams were notified in January 2012.Teams not only have to design and build the houses, but also figure out how to get them to the site of the Decathlon where they are reassembled for the competition. It’s an expensive process. The Department of Energy gives each team $100,000 to get them started, but makes them responsible for expenses beyond that.