Next Up

Changing the World of Construction with Solar-Powered Homes

Students from around the globe are making huge strides toward energy-efficiency as they gear up for this year's U.S. Departmet of Energy Solar Decathlon.

1 / 8

Team Swiss Living Challenge House Design

Solar panels cover the walls of this home, designed by a team of students from four Swiss universities. It’s made out of laminated veneer lumber, which gives the team more design flexibility. The roof will collect rainwater, and a dry toilet will use worms to treat and recycle waste to help conserve valuable resources.

More photos after this Ad

2 / 8
Photo: University of Maryland

University of Maryland reACT Design

The University of Maryland’s home, reACT, is a flexible, off-the-grid modular home designed around a central “spine” that allows for relatively easy additions. The team hopes its adaptable model could be scalable to accommodate a wide range of family sizes and other uses. An indoor hydroponic wall, outdoor veggie garden, and movable green wall that can be brought inside in the winter time will help make this home’s future occupants more self-sufficient for food in addition to energy.

More photos after this Ad

3 / 8
Photo: University of California at Berkeley/University of Denver

University of California at Berkeley and University of Denver’s RISE

Built for long, narrow spaces, RISE has windows on two walls instead of all four. Identical units can be stacked three high without altering the structure of the home, so it can easily become a multi-family home. The large and open staircase was intentional: The team wants to facilitate community between neighbors.

More photos after this Ad

4 / 8
Photo: Thomas Kelsey/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon

Missouri University of Science and Technology Nest Home

For the 2015 competition, the Missouri University of Science and Technology created a home out of three repurposed shipping containers, covered on the outside by wood from recycled shipping pallets. The Nest Home’s hydroponic garden wall is fed by trip-filtered, recycled greywater from the shower, laundry, and bathroom sink.

More photos after this Ad