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Artist's rendering of the University of Missouri-Rolla 2007 Solar Decathlon house.

The Missouri-Rolla team designed their house to be an economical option for people. They believe an average middle-class family should be able to afford it.

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Solar Decathlon 2007

University of Missouri-Rolla

Good Things Come in Threes

What happens when your university has entered three Solar Decathlons, producing three distinct solar houses? In the case of the University of Missouri-Rolla, an on-campus solar village happens, replete with student housing and unparalleled research facilities.

"Our overriding goal every year has been to focus on the public and present solar energy in a way that appeals to them," says Jacob Colbert, one of the student team leaders. But the team also seeks to investigate something new each year and establish research opportunities for current and future students and faculty.

They share the view that architecture is important, but their goal as a team is to further solar and renewable energy. "To do that, we are seeking to optimize both energy efficiency and energy production to reach a balance," says Travis Brenneke, student and building project manager. "This is about showcasing not just what solar energy can do or a futuristic design, but striking a balance that will appeal to the masses and not go overboard in either direction."

Automated systems have captured the attention of the 2007 Missouri-Rolla team. Integral to this is a home automation system with indoor and outdoor sensors that control air-conditioning, lighting, and windows.

The house takes advantage of natural light by incorporating many south-facing windows. A 12-ft (3.7-m) folding glass wall brightens the main living space. In the center of the glass is a door for egress—or the entire wall can be opened so the interior spaces join up with the deck.

The exterior is finished in Paperstone rain screen, which is UV resistant, easy to install, available in a multitude of colors, and 100% recyclable. Countertops are 50% recycled materials, and the floors are eucalyptus, which is harder and more resilient than bamboo flooring.

A great source of pride for the Missouri-Rolla Decathletes is that everyone understands the entire project. "We've gotten everybody involved with design, fundraising, building... everything," says finance student Adam Smith. "This is a real-world experience that makes us more marketable when we graduate."

Team Contact

Stuart W. Baur