The 2013 Solar Decathlon will be held from Oct. 3 to 13 in Southern California’s Orange County Great Park. The traditionally sunny spot marks the first time the event will be held somewhere other than Washington, D.C., where it was launched in 2002.  The park is located in Irvine, Calif., which averages about a half-inch of rain for the entire month of October. The 20 teams selected for the sixth Solar Decathlon should be relieved by that statistic given the wet cloudy days that made the 2011 event even more of a challenge. Nine of the 20 university teams will remember that rainy experience when they return for the 2013 competition.

One of those nine returning teams from 2011 is a partnership between the Southern California Institute of Architecture and the California Institute of Technology. In 2013, they will share home-field advantage with three new entrants: Santa Clara University, Stanford University, and the University of Southern California. The University of Maryland, the 2011 victor, will not be vying for a repeat title in the upcoming competition, but you can see their winning project in the accompanying slideshow.

Teams will build solar-powered, efficient, well-designed, affordable houses that demonstrate green building innovations. Builders, architects, engineers, and anyone interested in learning more about the latest technologies and techniques in sustainable design and construction can tour the houses over two long weekends. The solar village will be open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. from Oct. 3-6 and Oct. 10-13. Other days the houses will be closed for performance testing and to track energy production and use under normal living conditions.