Sapienza University of Rome has become one of a selected international group of 21 universities that will compete for two years within the Solar Decathlon Middle East 2018 Edition with the aim of designing and building a full-scale prototype of the best sustainable and energy self-sufficient house. The 21 university teams competing, coming from 15 different countries, were selected by an international jury in a shortlist of over 60 nominations following a rigorous technical review process that lasted more than three months.

The announcement was made on the 5th October 2016 during the official opening ceremony of the World Green Economy Summit held annually in Dubai, in the presence, among others, of the Minister for Climate Change of the UAE, the Administrator of the United Nations Development Program, the General Director of the International Renewable Energy Agency and the General Consul of Italy to Dubai.


Created by the initiative of the US Department of Energy in 2002, the Solar Decathlon is an International biennial architectural, design, planning, engineering and communication competition. It aims to develop innovation and transfer of knowledge and research in the field of renewable energy and sustainable architecture, strongly contributing to the dissemination of industrialized, solar and sustainable housing.

The challenge offered to universities around the world is to design and build – in an academic context supported by industrial partners, and for a period of two years – a prototype house of 100 square metres with the sun as the only energy source, and test its efficiency and environmental quality for a period of one month in a specially dedicated competition site. The Solar house prototype which will be fully functional, will be open to the public and evaluated by an international jury on the basis of 10 contests (hence the name solar decathlon): architecture, engineering and construction, energy management, energy efficiency, comfort conditions, house functioning, sustainable transportation, sustainability, communication and innovation.


Solar Decathlon Middle East 2018 (SDME 2018) – to be held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates – is the newest member of the global Solar Decathlon family and is the first edition of this important inter-university competition to have place in the Middle East. It will have as a further challenge for the teams in the race to be confronted with the harsh environment characterized by extremely high temperatures and humidity. Furthermore, one of the main characteristic elements of the SDME competition is its emphasis on sustainability, innovation and research. The participant teams work not only to develop and build their houses, but also to enhance the systems’ integration and generation of knowledge on sustainable construction. SDME 2018 was created through an agreement signed between the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), and the Department of Energy of the United States of America in June 2015 in order to organize a sustainable solar houses competition in Dubai in 2018 and 2020 (Download Solar Decathlon Middle East 2018 Booklet).

The SDME competition will support the National Innovation Strategy of the UAE and its commitment to improving the nation’s science, technology, engineering and mathematics education efforts and to building a more knowledge-intensive workforce. Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) is eager to create and support education and workforce development programmes that are specific to applied energy and are essential to carrying out DEWA’s mission and advancing energy technologies for the future.

Watch the Official Video of Solar Decathlon Middle East 2018

Watch the Official Video of SDME 2020 presentation