Department of Energy
2013 Solar Decathlon
Disaster relief housing caught the attention of Team Kentuckiana, a group of students and faculty from the University of Louisville, Ball State University, and the University of Kentucky, who were selected to compete in the 2013 Solar Decathlon (SD) Competition sponsored by the Department of Energy (solardecathlon.gov). This biennial competition challenges 20 collegiate teams from across the US to design, market, and build a cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive house that runs on solar energy.
During the design phase of the competition, Team Kentuckiana identified the need for low-cost, solar-powered habitats for disaster relief. The team worked toward a quickly and easily deployed structure powered independently of the electric power grid. The home features a grid-compatible power system for net metering and can be linked with other homes to form local microgrids. Additionally, the house can also help address the pressing need for low-cost, energy efficient housing in rural areas where power access can be prohibitive. Typical manufactured homes used in these areas are very inefficient and key contributors to elevated energy costs. The team’s housing system, which will be designed to be comparable in cost to conventional manufactured housing and utilities, can be used in rural areas with greater efficiency and long-term equity.
Team Kentuckiana's "Phoenix House" was showcased in Fall 2013 at the national competition site at Orange County Great Park in Irvine CA. It won first place in the Affordability segment of the competition as well as Team Favorite. After the SD competition, the Speed School of Engineering utilized The Phoenix House on the UofL campus as the administrative offices for Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research, which opened in 2016 and includes an outdoor laboratory and sculpture garden built by assistant director Andrew Marsh. The house continues to be utilized for further technology studies and testing of residential scale prototypes as well as for student outreach in conjunction with the Campus Health Initiatives program.
For more information about the competition, visit the Solar Decathlon website: http://www.solardecathlon.gov/.