The Missouri Miner

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EST. 1915

Go green for Solar House 5K

Mahati Ganji


The Missouri S&T Solar House Design Team encourages building a more sustainable world. Every two years, the students on the team collaborate with faculty and industry advisers to design and construct a successful solar powered home. This team represents an opportunity for students to learn innovative skills, leadership abilities, and teamwork by getting hands-on experience. The Solar House design team competes in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon, a biennial event. The challenge is to design, build and operate 100% solar-powered houses that are marketable, cost-efficient, and energy-efficient. The competition monitors the whole process and encourages the team to raise the necessary funds themselves from donors or sponsors. Our team’s proposal has been accepted again this year, meaning that Missouri S&T has qualified more times than any other university worldwide. This experiential learning opportunity for our students helps them develop qualities that will be very valuable in their respective industries.


The Solar House Design Team finished its first house in 2002. Since then, they have taken part in the competition and have qualified six times now. Biennially, they come up with a new, sustainable, cost-efficient design. In more recent years, they have come up with two houses: Nest and SILO. The Nest home was built in 2015 to prove that a net-zero home can comfortably meet the need of a small family. The greywater system they implemented helped reduce 25% of the water consumption and the home automation system continuously monitors the interior and exterior conditions contributing to additional savings. The three hydroponic gardens provide fresh produce to residents, offering unlimited savings. The current design, SILO (Smart Innovative Living Oasis) is more than a self-sustaining net-zero home. The innovative feature of the house is its automation system, which allows the residents to live in ease and comfort. The cutting-edge technologies used in the house include a solar array, greywater reclamation system, and energy storage. The rich greenery and efficient appliances provide true smart living. The sunlight, clean air, and relaxing atmosphere help to create the feeling of an oasis in the house.


There are many sub-teams involved in creating the current Solar House based on the foundations laid out in the previous designs like architecture, electrical, home automation, finance, special projects, mechanical, public relations, and structures. Being as diverse as possible, the design team welcomes students from all the engineering and science departments. There are over 60 students in the design team pushing the limits of the Solar-Powered House. The current partners that help provide the necessary funds for the team are Ameren, Nucor, Uponor, WGL, BEKO, Nana Wall, AMAE, and Decathlon. The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon invites 20 teams biennially to compete in ten contests that judge their homes’ functionality, livability, and aesthetic appeal. This year the competition is held in Denver, Colorado in October and universities from around the world have submitted proposals with the hope of being accepted into the competition. In 2015, our team was placed 5th with the Nest Home design.


The team usually holds various events to showcase their Solar Village and team. This year they are hosting their third annual 5K Green Run, an initiative to raise money to send students to the Solar Decathlon on April 22nd (Earth day). The race begins at 12:00 PM starting from Solar Village. Pre-registration costs $15, which ended on April 16th and at the time of the event, registration will cost $20. A free T-shirt is included the registration fee. Their 5K run is a color run, where everyone and their clothes will be doused and decorated with green paint powder. The green paint powder is dyed cornstarch non-toxic and environmentally safe to celebrate Earth Day. Everybody is invited to join the effort to spread awareness of sustainability throughout the community.


“We aren’t just building a house, we’re building a lifestyle. Join us on this journey toward a greener future.”

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