On February 27, two teams of IDEXlab students from Appalachian State University were selected as finalists in the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2019 Solar Decathlon Design Challenge in Golden, Colorado. The teams received two of the 48 finalist invitations sent to colleges internationally.
The competition challenges students to work with industry partners to design a high-performance, net zero energy-ready building to address real-world in the building industry.
The two teams, each composed of seven students from the Department of Sustainable Technology and the Built Environment, are working with local 501c3 community partners to provide affordable yet unique housing solutions in Watauga County. One IDEXlab team, competing in the Suburban Single Family (SSF) division, is working with the Watauga County chapter of Habitat for Humanity to develop the Catalog Home, a 1300 sf family residence. The other IDEXlab team, competing in the Attached Housing (AH) division, is working with LIFE Village to develop the LIFEmpowered Home, a 500 sf prototype residential unit in a shared community for adults living on the autism spectrum.
The LIFEmpowered Home is the next evolutionary step in a multi-semester partnership between Appalachian’s Building Science program and LIFE Village. In 2018, Christopher Schoonover, PE, led a summer design-build course to construct a tiny home for LIFE Village, which led to a fall semester sponsored studio conducted by associate professor D. Jason Miller, AIA, for design research and proposals for LIFE Independent and LIFE Assisted housing prototypes.
Both teams have worked with multiple building industry experts as part of their IDEXlab curriculum to help refine their designs. The IDEXlab is a special curriculum cohort housed in the Department of Sustainable Technology and the Built Environment that flips the traditional classroom, offering an interdisciplinary and professional educational experience in which students plan, design, and construct real-world projects. Practitioner-in-Residence Chelsea Helms, NCIDQ, directs the IDEXlab, with Miller and Dr. Jamie Russell also teaching in this project-based learning (PBL) environment.
The student teams are working now to finalize their design proposals and travel to Colorado in April to compete. The winning teams will have their work displayed on the Solar Decathlon Design Challenge website.
About the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon Design Challenge Competition
The Solar Decathlon Design Challenge seeks to advance and enhance building science teaching and research in universities. According to the Solar Decathlon website, “collegiate institutions that participate in the challenge are recognized as leaders who are producing career-ready professionals with cutting-edge skills. Industry partners who collaborate with teams gain national and local recognition and have the opportunity to interact with knowledgeable future design and construction professionals.”
About the Department of Sustainable Technology and the Built Environment
One of seven departments housed in the College of Fine and Applied Arts, the Department of Sustainable Technology and the Built Environment at Appalachian State University features an integrated array of programs spanning the fields of sustainable design and technology. Its mission is to foster a strong and vibrant culture of inquiry, discovery and innovation that integrates theory with application, problem seeking with problem-solving, local issues with global perspectives and technological progress with environmental stewardship. It offers bachelor’s degrees in sustainable technology and building science, and a master’s degree in technology.
Note: images show Habitat and LIFE Village project teams at work in IDEXlab.