Team Germany celebrates winning first place in the DOE Solar Decathlon competition on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on Friday, October 16, 2009. (Stefano Paltera/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon)
Today, DOE Deputy Secretary Daniel Poneman announced the winners of the 2009 Solar Decathlon competition on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The student team from Darmstadt, Germany, won top honors by designing, building, and operating the most attractive and efficient solar-powered home. This is the team's second-straight Solar Decathlon victory.

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign won second place, followed by Team California in third. The active competition lasted for a week, with the prototype home designs open to the public through last Sunday. Team Germany's winning "Cube House" design produced a surplus of power - even during three days of rain.

Taking place over the past two weeks, the 2009 Solar Decathlon challenged 20 university-led teams from the United States along with Spain, Germany, and Canada to compete in 10 separate contests. These ranged from judging elements such as architecture, market viability, communications, lighting design, and engineering, to technical measurements of how well the homes provided energy for space heating and cooling, hot water, home entertainment, appliances, and net metering.

The Net Metering Contest - new to this year's competition - was the most heavily weighted contest. Teams were awarded 100 points if the energy supplied to their home's two-way electrical meter registered zero or less after all of the energy demands of the contest week. Each house in the competition was connected to a power grid and equipped with a meter that measured both its consumption and production of energy. When a team's meter showed a negative number, the home had generated surplus energy — worth up to 50 extra points. Team Germany scored a perfect 150 points.

Overall, Team Germany earned 908.29 points out of a possible 1,000, followed by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with 897.30 points, and Team California with 863.08 points.

Check out the winning team's design: