The New York City College of Technology is weatherproofing its house, called DURA, at a Brooklyn Navy Yard construction site. | Photo courtesy of New York City College of Technology.

Mark your calendars: The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon — America’s premier collegiate competition that challenges students from around the world to design, build and operate highly energy-efficient, solar-powered houses — will open October 8 in Irvine, California.

Sixteen collegiate teams involving more than 2,000 students from 27 schools are deep into construction, assembling their innovative houses on or near their campuses. In less than three months, the students will transport and open those houses to the public in the Solar Decathlon village, where they’ll demonstrate just how affordable, attractive and comfortable these zero-energy homes — homes that are so efficient that a solar energy system can offset all or most of their energy consumption — have become.

Watch our video from Solar Decathlon 2013 to get a snapshot of this sustainable-living event and the excitement the student decathletes share with visitors. The competition not only shows consumers how to save energy and money with affordable clean energy products available today, like solar panels and energy-efficient lighting, but also gives these aspiring engineers, architects and builders the hands-on experience and unique training that will equip them for America’s clean energy workforce.

The collegiate teams will arrive at the Solar Decathlon village at Orange County Great Park on September 28 to begin onsite assembly. The teams will spend nine action-packed days in a sprint to rebuild their one-of-a-kind houses in time for opening day. During the competition, the teams will compete in 10 contests that gauge the performance, livability and affordability of the houses.

These solar-powered, energy-efficient houses represent diverse target markets, technological innovations and design approaches. Check out the Solar Decathlon website for computer-animated walkthroughs, renderings, video interviews and sneak peeks of what this year’s teams plan to unveil when the competition begins and to learn about the talented students who are participating.

Team houses will be open to the public free of charge at Orange County Great Park October 8-11 and October 15-18 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time. The overall winner will be announced October 17 at 10 a.m. For full event information, visit SolarDecathlon.gov and follow the buildup to the competition on Facebook, Twitter and on the Solar Decathlon Blog.