U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon | Powered by the Sun

Solar Decathlon 2013

Team Texas: The University of Texas at El Paso and El Paso Community College

Team website: www.engineering.utep.edu/solardecathlon/

For the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2013, Team Texas created ADAPT, a house that reflects the nature of El Paso. Built at the confluence of two nations and three states, the house honors the myriad cultures present in Far West Texas and uses innovative technologies to model flexibility, utility, and high efficiency in a new suburban environment.

Design Philosophy

ADAPT was designed with a belief that a home is not just a location or state of mind but a place where the heart is. The house emulates the indigenous Pueblo Indian adaptions to the Chihuahuan desert and creates a bubble of comfort that feels natural on the mountain plateau, high desert, chaparral, or verdant farmland, where it maximizes the use of solar energy—the most abundant resource in the Desert Southwest.


  • Corten steel panel walls will age to a beautiful patina.
  • Accents of color and light infuse the house with a rustic, Southwestern ambiance.
  • A canopy that covers the porch supports the solar panels and provides shade to the house-length deck.
  • There is ample patio space for outdoor living.
  • Flexible interior spaces blend together with an aesthetic of flow and movement, with large windows that provide sweeping views of the deck, yard, and skyline.


  • An adjustable-height foundation system enables the house to be transported easily and rest on and connect to six steel beams.
  • The walls of the house are made of a strong fiber composite material that is a powerful insulator and highly resistant to fire.
  • Bifacial solar collection units produce electricity for the house by gathering solar energy from both the top and bottom of the units.
  • A ductless radiant heating and cooling system circulates fully as a closed loop of radiant heat.
  • A separate set of pipes in a chilled-beam system moves water through a variable refrigeration unit and chills the fluid before it travels through the ceiling to cool the interior spaces.

Market Strategy

Incorporating simple but elegant designs that appeal to a range of eco-conscious consumers, ADAPT is made for young urban professionals who want to express their individuality with environmentally conscientious decisions, reject conformity, and adopt new technologies. With adaptable flex spaces and a modular structure that is ideal for placement near an existing residence, it is for singles, couples, and those with aging parents or relatives—allowing privacy but keeping loved ones close.

What's Next

Following Solar Decathlon 2013, ADAPT will be transported back to the University of Texas at El Paso campus and exhibited as part of the university's Centennial Celebration. It will host educational and social events for students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members. As the celebration draws to a close at the end of 2014, the house will be moved to a permanent location on campus or to an adjacent community property to be used as an educational resource and science center for students.


Rogelio Dominguez
Phone: 915-345-4190

Photo of members of the University of Texas at El Paso  and El Paso Community College Solar Decathlon 2013 team. Enlarge image

The University of Texas at El Paso and El Paso Community College Solar Decathlon 2013 team (Courtesy of the University of Texas at El Paso and El Paso Community College Solar Decathlon 2013 team)

The University of Texas at El Paso and El Paso Community College audiovisual presentation

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