Washington State University students have begun designing a solar home for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon competition. The contest, set for fall of 2017 in Denver, Colorado, will award $2 million in prize money.

WSU is one of 14 universities from across the world chosen to participate in the competition, which aims to increase public awareness of solar energy and inspire innovative solutions in ecological design. Darrin Griechen, an architecture professor in the School of Design and Construction, is leading the effort for WSU.

Professor Darrin Griechen works with students on solar decathlon design.Professor Darrin Griechen works with students on solar decathlon design.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for students to apply the skills and knowledge they are learning toward a real project,” said Griechen.

Students are designing and building the home and will transport it to Denver in fall 2017 where it will be on public display and compete with other universities in 10 categories: architecture, engineering, innovation, communication, health and comfort, market potential, appliances, energy balance, water, and home life. The teams must commute with an electric vehicle using energy from their solar-powered home.

“Our students will be working on our most critical challenges in smart and sustainable living while also gaining tremendous hands-on experience at designing and building for the future,” said Phil Gruen, director of the school. “WSU remains focused on our land-grant mission of training our students to solve these most important and real problems for the world.”

“We are perfectly positioned to design, engineer, and build a home within this smart paradigm,” said Griechen.

WSU students from a wide variety of disciplines—including architecture, interior design, landscape architecture, construction management, mechanical engineering, civil engineering, electrical engineering, computer science, communications, business, and English—are participating in the project.

* Feature image at top: Rendering of Solar Decathlon design.

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