Skip to main content
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Flickr
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • YouTube
  • Google+
Denver, Colorado
October 5-15, 2017

Team Alabama: University of Alabama at Birmingham and Calhoun Community College

Team website:

The University of Alabama at Birmingham and Calhoun Community College are constructing the s u r v i v ( A L ) house for the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2017. Inspired by the devastating impact of the 2011 tornadoes that struck Alabama, the team is designing s u r v i v ( A L ) to withstand extreme weather events in a home that is both affordable and suited to the southern climate.

Design Philosophy

At the heart of s u r v i v ( A L ) is a composite and steel "strong room" that extends below the level of the house’s subfloor with permanent footings. The strong room is constructed for durability to withstand extreme weather events and protect the people inside, even if the house around them is impacted by a tornado. For daily comfort, the house is wrapped in an energy efficient envelope that helps house occupants manage summer heat gain while reducing the energy needed to cool indoor air.


    Planned Features and Technologies

    • Thick, double-stud, well-insulated walls
    • A large northern porch, covered with a transparent canopy for inclement weather, allows light to wrap around corners and penetrate the interior of the house in the early morning and late evening
    • A high-albedo roof that does not absorb as much heat from the sun as typical roofing material, thus decreasing the need for cooling
    • A wet wall in the middle of the house that allows the shower to be used by either of the two bathrooms
    • A central kitchen opens wide for communication to the living and dining spaces
    • An open ceiling combined with clerestory windows to increase daylighting.



    Hessam Taherian