Financing Agreement no. UAUIM-FFCSU-2021-025


Project title: Holistic Competition, Integrated Academic Expertise

Acronym: CHEIA (from „Competiție Holistică, Expertiză Integrată Academic”)

Scope: Creating a collaborative core of experts in sustainability, by strategically integrating the design, build & operate Solar Decathlon competition into research approaches and academic curricula, through exploring the impact of this transdisciplinary learning model and the pragmatic opportunities for evolution and innovation offered by organizing the 2023 edition in Bucharest.

Funding Chapter: H. Strategic Research and Research Development in UAUIM

Code: UAUIM-FFCSU-2021-025

Implementing period: 20.09.2021 – 10.12.2021



O1. Extraction of specific requirements from Romanian norms, for integrating them into the Building Code section of the SDE23 competition Rules, by analyzing the legislation regarding inclusive design of energy efficient homes, in order to obtain authorization for construction of the prefabricated prototypes, functioning temporarily as exhibition pavilions.

O1. Matrix of comparative analysis SDE Rules Building Codes criteria evolution.pdf

O2. Investigating the current situation of the prototypes participating in the 4 previous editions of the Solar Decathlon Europe competition: SDE 2010 and SDE 2012 in Madrid, Spain, SDE 2014 in Versailles, France and SDE 2019 in Szentendre, Hungary.

O2. Research matrix 65 prototypes SDE 2010 - SDE 2019.pdf

O3. Training 5 full-time and associate teachers from UAUIM to provide unitary feedback during the almost two years of SDE 2023 competition on the 7 Deliverables submitted by the qualified teams, following certain specific components of the 10 SDE contests.

O3. SDE 2010 - 2022 10 contest evolution.pdf

O4. Identifying opportunities for active involvement in the direction of sustainability of UAUIM students, in creative and practical activities, during the two-year SDE 2023 event in Bucharest.

O5. Proposing academic directions for a possible implementation of a master's program in UAUIM on the topic of sustainable building design, by defining specific skills and degree of interest of future students, specialization needs and required competences of the future involved teachers.

Project Team

Project Description

There are many architecture competitions for students. The uniqueness of Solar Decathlon lies in the transformative potential of the experience of such a holistic design, build & operate competition on the educational and professional paths of the students and teachers involved.

For two years, student teams plan, design, build, prefabricate, transport, assemble, test, research, monitor, present, and communicate 1: 1 scale housing prototypes.

The high level of stakes in the transdisciplinary teams and the sustained efforts at a fast pace make their mark in the long run. The five Romanian teams participating in the Solar Decathlon editions in the last decade have formed networks of specialists motivated today to innovate and generate knowledge.

Romania won the organization of the Solar Decathlon Europe 2023 (SDE23) edition, following the “Call for Cities” qualification stage in November 2020.

Between August and September 2023, Bucharest should have hosted the final phase of the SDE23 edition.

For two weeks, a Solar Decathlon competition site becomes a public exhibition of functional sustainable houses, operated by students, monitored in real time, and evaluated by international juries.

The organization of SDE in 2023 in Bucharest would have represented an extraordinary opportunity for "literacy" in the direction of sustainability of the general public, mass-media and public authorities and for the education of pupils, craftsmen, students and the construction industry in Romania.

For financial reasons, the SDE 2023 edition in Bucharest was canceled in January 2022, after considerable efforts made by the organizing team throughout 2021.

From 10 to 26 June 2022, the public will have access to visit the houses participating in the SDE21/22 edition in Wüppertal, Germany.

Romania has a qualified team for the SDE21/22 competition: EFdeN VATRA.

Energy Endeavour Foundation launched the Call for Cities for the Solar Decathlon Europe 2025:

For the academic and professional community in the field of architecture, Solar Decathlon offers a whole range of opportunities: training in professional skills, exchange of experiences with dozens of prestigious universities and hundreds of companies, a center for recruitment, an open laboratory for applied research, a test for the potential evolution of the digitization’s degree of construction documentation in Romania, a range of models for managing sustainable housing projects in the community and, last but not least, a valuable cultural hub.

Other useful resources:


A1 (O1) took place between September and November 2021 and consisted in the comparative analysis of the Rules of SDE competitions and of the Romanian legislation specific to the design and authorization for the construction of prototypes of prefabricated houses with temporary role of exhibition pavilions.

A2 (O2) took place between September and November 2021 and consisted in contacting the participating teams in SDE 2010, SDE 2012, SDE 2014 and SDE 2019 in order to complete a questionnaire and create a database with useful information, described in detail in R2.2.

A3.1. (O3) took place during November, 2021 and consisted of the acquisition and analysis of the 7 Deliverables and the evaluation feedbacks received from the organizers and juries by the 5 Romanian teams participating in previous editions of the Solar Decathlon competition.

A3.2. (O3) consisted of two workshops measuring the comfort parameters, held at the headquarters of EFdeN Sustainable City:

- November 19, 2021 = measurement workshop in the EFdeN Signature House, prototype participant in the Solar Decathlon Middle East 2018 edition (SDME 2018) which took place in Dubai;

- December 3, 2021 = measurement workshop in the EFdeN 4C House, the first Comfort Conditions Research Center (“Centru de Cercetare a Condițiilor de Confort”) in Romania, prototype that participated in the SDE 2014 edition in Versailles, France.

A4.1. (O4) took place during November 2021 and consisted of completing a database that includes the situation of credit equivalents from the last 10 years for UAUIM students participating in Romanian teams qualified for editions of the Solar Decathlon competition.

A4.2. (O4) took place throughout the CHEIA project, aiming to define a range of creative and practical activities, in which volunteers can be actively involved – UAUIM students, but also students from other faculties of architecture in the country. Extensive discussions took place with interested teachers from UAUIM, as well as with the university centers of architectural education in Iași, Cluj and Timișoara. At European level, new contacts have been established, with Romanian architects and engineers active in research centers and design / management companies in constructions. The EELISA University Cluster is particularly interested in exchanging experiences between students in the direction of sustainability.

A5.1. (O4, O5) took place on December 8, 2021, in the form of a public webinar conducted for the dissemination of the results obtained under the specific objectives 4 and 5. The activity was based on a consistent theoretical analysis conducted during the project. The knowledge, skills and competencies required for graduates of a master's degree in sustainable architecture have been identified. In parallel, the training and specialization needs of tenured and associate teachers from UAUIM who want to be involved in such a postgraduate program were investigated.

A5.2. (O1-5): Round table in hybrid format in DST.LAB (the Architectural Technology Laboratory of the Department of Technical Sciences) on December 10, 2021, with the objectives: analysis of the results of the CHEIA project, providing feedback by the project team and outlining lessons learned and future directions of development of a possible multiannual CHEIA research project.


R1 (A1). Matrix of comparative analysis on the evolution of the categories of criteria in the Building Code sections of the Solar Decathlon Europe competition Ruless, from 5 European editions: 2010 and 2012 (Madrid, Spain), 2014 (Versailles, France), 2019 (Szentendre, Hungary) and 2021 / 2022 (Wüppertal, Germany).

R2.1. Two PhD students with related research topics benefit from substantial knowledge transfer.

R2.2. Report on the post-competition life and the current state of the prototypes from the SDE 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2019 editions.

R3. Table of analysis of the evolution of the 10 contests of the SDE competition in the 6 successive European editions: 2010, 2012, 2014, 2019, 2021 (postponed to 2022), 2023 (canceled competition).

R4. Planning that structures the opportunities for active involvement of UAUIM students in creative and practical activities in the direction of sustainability. Detailing some examples of activities.

R5. Study on the academic strategy and the opportunity to implement a specialization master's program in the field of sustainable building design, in UAUIM.

R6. (A3.2, A5.1.) Results and activities of the CHEIA project disseminated on the and websites. Due to the cancellation of the SDE 2023 competition, the activities carried out in the CHEIA research project were no longer posted on the website.

R7. A team aware of the importance of integrating design & build experiences, willing to long-term involvement in architecture, design and urban planning education, ready for the multiannual continuation of the CHEIA project.

R8. A solid documentation and new open perspectives for the multiannual continuation of the CHEIA project in the academic years 2022-2023 and 2023-2024, in order to continue the vision of UAUIM in the direction of sustainability.