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Photo of the University of Missouri-Rolla's 2002 house pictured from the rear with its 2005 house visible in the background. Enlarge image

The University of Missouri-Rolla's Solar Decathlon 2002 house is located across from its 2005 house in the school's on-campus Solar Village.
(Courtesy of Bob Phelan)

Who: University of Missouri-Rolla
What: Solar house
Missouri University of Science and Technology Solar Village
Rolla, MO 65401
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Public tours: Call 573-341-6782 for tour information.

Solar Decathlon 2002

University of Missouri-Rolla: Leading the Way

The University of Missouri-Rolla—now called the Missouri University of Science and Technology—entered its first U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon in 2002. The solar-powered house it designed for this competition became the first of four to end up in an on-campus Solar Village.

The team went to the National Mall with plans to store the house pending a permanent resolution. While in Washington, D.C., faculty team leader Bob Phelan received several offers to purchase the house. "It just never occurred to us that we wouldn't keep it," he says.

Once the university was accepted into its second Solar Decathlon, the school began working in earnest to find a place for its houses. A vacant lot next to the student newspaper headquarters helped make the vision of a Solar Village a reality. Near the football field, the lot also allowed easy access to the public for tours.

In August 2006, the 2002 house became the first building in the Solar Village. The 2005 Prairie House joined its solar-powered neighbor later that month. Both houses were set above newly constructed basements added to hold functional systems such as the water tank, inverter, and batteries. The 2007 and 2009 houses have since filled out the lot.

Any student enrolled at Missouri University of Science and Technology can apply to live in a Solar Decathlon house. Priority is given to those students directly involved in the projects and those who participate in other design teams. While student residents enjoy the benefits of solar-powered living, the rent collected from the Solar Village helps the university recoup the cost of participating in the competition.