Students from the University of Calgary will be headed to California to take part in the U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon next year.

The students will form one of twenty teams that will be challenged to design, build and operate solar powered houses.

The event was started in 2001 and is held every two years. The next event will be in Irvine, California in the fall of 2013.

The Calgary team has until then to complete construction on their home.

Their idea is based around the housing shortage in remote northern Alberta communities.

The homes have to be net zero, which means they produce more energy than they use.

The winner will be determined by whichever team best blends affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency.

About 16 students from a number of faculties will work on the 2013 entry.

"It's a very positive experience. You see all of the different technologies that are being implemented around the world. It's not that you're disappointed that you maybe didn't do something, but you're learning from one another, and looking to the future of energy, the environment and where we're going," said student Carolyn Parker.

The decathlon consists of ten contests; Architecture, Market Appeal, Engineering, Communications, Affordability, Comfort Zone, Hot Water, Appliances, Home Entertainment and Energy Balance.

Each contest is worth 100 points for a total of 1000 and entries will be evaluated by a jury.

Last year the Calgary team placed 10th out of 19 entries and in 2009 students finished 6th out of 20 teams.

For more information, visit the Solar Decathlon website.