Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology Wins Solar Decathlon India Design Challenge

* The 3rd edition saw participation from 1780 students and 126 academic institutions. * Student teams presented net-zero solutions for 36 real building projects on the final day of the presentation.

Solar Decathlon India (SDI), aimed at building the next generation of leaders to combat climate change in India, is an annual challenge for undergraduate and postgraduate students from Indian educational institutions to develop innovative, net-zero energy-water and climate resilient solutions for the building sector in India. After two years of COVID-19 forced virtual events, SDI conducted its 3rd edition at Infosys’ campus in Mysuru, one of the most sustainability operated campuses in the world, where six teams topped their divisions. These six teams pitched their solutions to a grand jury consisting of real estate and media stalwarts, and Team V⁰ from Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology, Nagpur won the coveted grand prize for the design.

The winners were announced in the presence of innovator and social entrepreneur Anish Malpani, who also delivered the keynote address. The 36 finalist projects were exhibited at the finals to a crowd of over 650 people. On May 28, Solar Decathlon India held an internship fair where leading organisations working on climate change and net-zero buildings looked to hire the best and brightest minds.

Infosys provided the venue pro bono for the three-day finals, which was conducted as a carbon-neutral event. The SDI trophies awarded to the winners were themselves carbon negative, demonstrating how climate change mitigation can be addressed with creativity and perseverance.

The Council of Architecture (CoA) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding as a knowledge partner with AEEE, who co-organises SDI, to expand outreach and the impact of Solar Decathlon India to address climate change. This is expected to facilitate architectural educational institutions and students to participate in the competition.

Prasad Vaidya, Director Solar Decathlon India, said “Some of these student teams have developed net-zero building designs that are on par with the work of the best professionals design teams in India. Within 9 months these students were able to scale a very steep learning curve. If students can do this so well, it is time that building owners and developers start demanding this quality of work on every building project they invest in.”

Chaitali Bhattacharya, Interim Director, IUSSTF, said “The Solar Decathlon India is an innovative platform that encourages and instils a healthy competitive spirit in youngsters by challenging them to think outside the box and use their ingenuity to design a net-zero niche. It was encouraging to see how inventive and imaginative solutions to global climate change challenges were presented at the Finals.”

“The IPCC AR6 2023 Synthesis report, which I co-authored, emphasises the importance of resilient net-zero buildings in the urban transition to limit global warming. The Solar Decathlon India finalists proposed innovative solutions integrating renewable technologies, sustainable design, and community engagement to transform Indian cities to achieve the 1.5oC goal.” stated Aromar Revi, Director, IIHS.

 “Bringing about a paradigm shift in design and construction practices is a complex and time- consuming task. It is thrilling to witness the ideas and designs that have emerged from this season of Solar Decathletes for net-zero buildings across different building typologies. The novelty with which they engage with various tools and skills introduced to them through the Solar Decathlon India, has transformative potential for the building sector.

“With SDI, we have planted the seeds of a movement, where buildings transcend their function as mere shelters and become powerful symbols of energy efficiency, resilience, and a sustainable legacy for future generations. Solar Decathlon India represents a paradigm shift in building design, inviting builders, developers, and academia to participate in this movement and redefine their roles,” commented Satish Kumar, President and Executive Director, AEEE.

Solar Decathlon India is conducted by the Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS) and the Alliance for an Energy Efficient Economy (AEEE) under the aegis of the Indo-US Science and Technology Forum (IUSSTF) ran for nine months. The 2023-24 challenge saw 154 teams competing, with 1780 students from 126 academic institutions, guided by 200 faculty mentors. Solar Decathlon India 2023-24 edition saw over 30 organisations offer opportunities for the challenge participants.

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