solar-decathlon-teamA multitude of lessons in teamwork and creative problem-solving is coming to light for WSU’s Solar Decathlon team, a group of 50 students representing 22 different majors from across the University.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon is bringing hands-on learning to the next level, and a team of 50 students from 22 different majors across WSU is enjoying every minute of the experience.

A multitude of lessons in teamwork and creative problem-solving is coming to light  for the students, who will travel to Denver, Colorado, next October as participants in Solar Decathlon 2017. Their entry – the culmination of an effort spanning two years – will compete for a cash prize of $300,000 for first place, $225,000 for second, and $150,000 for third. Each team that successfully builds a solar house at the site and finishes the competition will receive $100,000.

Solar Decathlon teams develop holistic solutions to the address the challenge of sustainable housing, says Darrin Griechen, Berry Family Solar Decathlon Director and clinical assistant professor of architecture. WSU is one of 14 colleges and universities worldwide invited by the DOE to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive. The designs are innovative; the homes use water and energy resources in a responsible and frugal manner without sacrificing livability and comfort.

With only a few months remaining in the project timeline, the WSU team is working feverishly to obtain necessary materials to construct their entry in Denver and to raise funds to cover travel-related expenses. Interested in supporting WSU’s Solar Decathlon team? Make a gift to the “Solar Decathlon Fund” online today.

WSU’s Solar Decathlon entry directly addresses the University’s Grand Challenges of sustainable resources, opportunity and equity, smart systems, and sustaining health by demonstrating the integration of transformative innovations developed at WSU and common sense approaches, such as the following:

  • Net-zero passive and active design solutions
  • A unique high-performance building envelope
  • Modular prefabricated flat-pack construction methods
  • Use of locally sourced renewable wood products in cross-laminated timber panels
  • New materials developed from recycled wind turbine blades
  • Onsite rainwater collection for irrigation of edible gardens
  • Partnering with innovative Washington clean-tech start-ups for grey-water treatment and reuse
  • Creating a “smart” control system to learn, coordinate, and optimize energy and water use and storage while also suggesting more energy-efficient use patterns
  • Monitoring of indoor air quality and the development of automated natural ventilation systems
  • Developing community educational outreach components as part of an overall communications plan

“By employing these innovations in a village of tiny homes with shared amenities on urban infill sites, we are able to leverage existing utility and transportation infrastructure to provide an affordable model of sustainable density within a city,” says Griechen.

After the team returns from Denver, the finished home will reside in Spokane’s University District as an ongoing living laboratory and education center for environmentally responsive buildings with smart home technologies designed to exist in next generation smart cities.