For those of you interested in exploring some of the brightest ideas in clean energy living, check out the 2011 Solar Decathlon taking place this week in Washington, DC. Featuring 19 energy-efficient homes designed and built by teams of university students from across the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Belgium, and China, the solar decathlon challenges collegiate teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive.

Houses are ranked across ten categories (hence, the decathlon) ranging from affordability and energy balance to architecture and engineering. And you don’t have to live near the nation’s capital to see what it’s all about: take a virtual tour of each of the homes here.

The event runs all week through October 2, and photos, video, and live updates are posted on the homepage daily. Here’s a quick video describing what it’s all about:

Wondering what you can do in your own home? Click here to learn more about creative ways to make your daily life more energy efficient.