This past October, we wrote a lot about the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon. If you haven't heard of the Solar Decathlon, it's a competition held every two years that challenges 20 collegiate teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive. The teams assemble their houses in a village on the National Mall, where they compete in ten contests and open their houses to the public for tours.

The next Solar Decathlon will take place in fall 2011, and though it's not front-page news right now, preparations for the 2011 event are well under way. Both DOE and the teams are busily preparing for next year's event, and it's worth checking in on what's happening.

The best place to start is the newly redesigned Solar Decathlon Web site [1]. The site now makes it easy for you to find the latest and greatest news about the event and the teams.

The big news last month was the announcement of the 2011 teams. Check out the list of teams [2] and take a look at the team pages [3] to get a preview of what they're working on. It's not too early to start rooting for your favorites!

If you just want to see some completed houses, take a look back at 2009 [4], where you can see video tours [5] of all of the team houses and photos [6] from the event.

Once you're sufficiently inspired, you may want to build your own home or buy some of the products the teams used. Check out the team pages [7], where you'll find their construction drawings, or take a look at the list of products used in the houses [8].

In addition, you can find the answer to one of the most common questions about Solar Decathlon: What happens to houses after the competition? The answer varies, and you can find out where the 2009 houses are now [9].

The 2009 competition is the most recent, but don't forget about the 2002 [10], 2005 [11], and 2007 [12] events either. Archives from those events are also on the site, so you can check out the photos and find out what happened to the houses.

If you’re ready to get involved, you can connect with the Solar Decathlon on social media channels to get all the latest updates and media—and be sure to follow Solar Decathlon on Facebook [13], Twitter [14], YouTube [15], and Flickr [16].

Allison Casey is a senior communicator at DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which assists EERE in providing technical content for many of its Web sites.