The Pennsylvania State University used the Solar Decathlon as a platform for active engagement and leadership in crossdisciplinary education, recognizing the difficulties of teamwork and showcasing the advantages of mutual respect and experiential learning. The greater goal of the Solar Decathlon experiences at Penn State has been to leverage the two-year process for increased momentum in research, education, and outreach in energy-related topics. Specific strategies were applied in both enterprises to address advanced solar design and a sustainability ethic. Here, we compare the case studies of teams in two consecutive competitions: the 2007 and 2009 U.S. Department of Energy National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Solar Decathlons. The case studies describe team formation, design process, and concept communicated in the constructed homes. Comparing the two enterprises demonstrates important stories, and describes processes in team organization, market viability, and decision-making in a volunteer non-profit enterprise. The process for each team has included energy analysis of efficiencies in the built environment, materials for energy conversion and storage, methods of sustainable design, and socio-economic impacts of new energy technologies. The approaches framed by the Solar Decathlon at Penn State are compared, illustrating important lessons for the Integrative Design Process (IDP), fundamental to responsible solar home design.