Solar-powered UAB Surviv(AL) house to compete in Solar Decathlon 2017

UAB Survive(AL) house
Image courtesy of UAB

UAB students have worked for over a year to design and build a house fully powered by solar energy. Learn more about the project here!

UAB surviv(AL) house
Image courtesy of Solar Decathlon’s website

Next month approximately 10 students from UAB will bring their solar powered house, called the surviv(AL) house, to Solar Decathlon 2017.

However, they will have to disassemble the house and reassemble it upon arrival for the competition.  The disassembly is taking place at 430 12th Street South on the afternoon of September 18th and the morning of the 19th.  It’s open to the public so go check it out!

Solar Decathlon 2017
UAB Surviv(AL) house
Image courtesy of UAB

The competition challenges teams to design and build a house that can run fully on solar powered energy with the same degree of quality as houses on a conventional power grid.

“We want to fight the misconception that a house using renewable energy means compromising on comfort or performance,”

-Hessam Taherian, Ph.D., assistant professor in the UAB School of Engineering

UAB surviv(AL) house
Image courtesy of UAB

UAB will be competing against 11 colleges in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2017. To test the teams, the sustainable houses undergo a series of 10 challenges throughout the competition.

The competition will take place in Denver, Colorado on October 5-15.

UAB Surviv(AL) House
UAB surviv(AL) house
A draw up of UAB’s surviv(AL) house (Image courtesy of UAB)

UAB students have designed the house to thrive in Alabama’s ever-changing weather circumstances.  The house includes tornado panels designed by UAB’s own engineers and a safe room that can withstand up to 250 mph winds.

Students have also designed the house to thrive in the Alabama heat.  The UAB-developed cooling system reduces energy costs for cooling the house.

After Alabama’s storms over the past few weeks, it’s easy to see why these features are necessary.

The Competition
UAB surviv(AL) house
Image courtesy of Thomas Kelsey/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon

Houses will be evaluated for their comfort, architecture, affordability, market appeal, appliances, energy balance, and more.  The judges will select the team that combines affordability, appeal, and design with energy production and efficiency.

The house will have to have sufficient energy to power household appliances and charge an electric car which will be driven 25 miles during the competition.

UAB surviv(AL) house
Image courtesy of UAB

For example, students will do laundry to test to see if the solar energy powers the dryer to fully dry clothes.  Similarly, the homes will be tested to see if they can provide hot water for the average length of a shower.

Also, students will throw two dinner parties for other teams by preparing the meals in their kitchen.  A movie night featuring snacks and movies for another teams will further test the livability of the solar-powered homes.

Teams will be competing for up to $300,000 in prize money.

After the Competition
Image courtesy of Thomas Kelsey/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon

Following the Solar Decathlon, the surviv(AL) house will become a permanent establishment on UAB’s campus to continue sustainability research.

Hessam Taherian, professor at the UAB School of Engineering and advisor for the project notes that Alabama falls far behind the rest of the country in its development of net-positive energy buildings.

Through this project, UAB hopes to lead the charge in furthering Alabama’s sustainable energy research.

Follow along with the project or donate here.

Do you know of other sustainable energy projects? Let us know!


Madeline Ingram
Madeline Ingram
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