Solar Decathlon

U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon®
Performance Modeling Advisor Guide


The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon® Performance Modeling Advisor Program pairs Building Energy Modeling (BEM) Professionals with student teams participating in the Design Challenge. The Advisor Program is intended to foster additional support and guidance for student teams, specifically in the area of energy modeling. Any IBPSA-USA member may become an Advisor. 

Advisors Apply Here

Get Matched with an Advisor
Student teams that are interested are welcome to register for the program by sending an email to solardecathalon@ibpsa.us. If you are interested in mentoring, click on the Advisors Apply Here button above. Mentors and students that are interested are requested to sign up before January 19, 2024

Upcoming Design Challenge 

Advisors should consider the scope and timeline of the competition before making commitments to a student team. The Design Challenge is an annual, design-only competition where student teams create a zero energy design for a residential or commercial building over the course of one or two semesters. The next competition cycle runs from October 2023 through April 2024

Learn more here: https://www.solardecathlon.gov/event/challenges-design.html

Advisor Commitment 

  • Advisors provide up to 5-10 hours of support throughout the Design Challenge competition. 

    • Support may include technical or nontechnical review and feedback on project direction, deliverables, and presentations. The organizer encourages Advisors to share their experiences and advice freely. Advisors cannot complete any project work for the team.

  • Advisors will work with only one student team in the Design Challenge.

  • Advisors who apply to be paired with a Design Challenge team are expected to be a resource for the competition period from October to April.

Student Team Commitment 

Students lead the relationship with their Advisor by scheduling meetings, providing meeting agendas, and completing follow-up tasks.

  • Students keep their Advisor apprised of project progress and outcomes.

  • Students provide their Advisor with adequate lead time for reviews—no less than 72 hours.

    • Students critically consider Advisor feedback to determine how best to incorporate. 

Advisor Program Best Practices 

These best practices are provided to help student teams and Advisors navigate a successful relationship. 

Student Tips

  • Set up recurring meetings to connect with your Advisor and establish routine check-ins that align with competition deliverables. Consolidate questions for your Advisor to guide conversations.

  • Ask Advisors about their background and strengths to understand how to utilize their expertise.

    • How can their experience help inform your project’s direction?

    •  In what knowledge areas do they consider themselves an expert?

  • The organizers recommend designating one student as the main point of contact for your Advisor. 

Advisor Tips

  • Share tips, lessons learned, and wisdom from your real world experience. 

    • How do you divide responsibilities within your team?

    • How do you present a compelling story about your project to clients? 

    • How do you prioritize where to spend performance modeling effort throughout the design process?

    • How do you troubleshoot failed simulations and interpret results of successful simulations?

  • Familiarize yourself with the official competition guide, including the 10 contest categories.

  • Set clear expectations around your time commitment and communication style with students.m