Ready, set, go -- you have two years to build a better solar home.
Teams from Stanford and Santa Clara University are participating in the sixth Solar Decathlon, according to the San Jose Mercury News.
A project of the U.S. Department of Energy, the contest involves designing, building and putting online a home that creates all of the energy it needs.
The houses are judged on energy output and affordability as well as "aesthetic" touches, like design and feel. Points are deducted if the cost to build the house exceeds $250,000, so frugality is key.
The homes are assembled on campus but then disassembled and trucked to the competition site in Orange County, where crews have eight days to put them back together again. In other words, it's a mobile solar home design that can be put to use by normal citizens following the contest.
Santa Clara teams placed third in 2009 and 2007, the newspaper reported. This year, the school's builders met six days a week to build a bamboo home. Stanford's entry is all about tech, with a central core module that contains a "hard drive" -- i.e. all of the power, pipes and appliances.
Students get $100,000 in start-up money to start building their homes but then must raise the rest. Stanford's team budgeted $1 million for their home, and Santa Clara is trying to raise $900,000.
Building will continue all summer, with the house contest on Oct. 3 in Irvine.