BYU students construct sustainable home for US Solar Decathlon

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The BYU Solar Decathlon Team is constructing a new sustainable home with a unique twist: instead of traditional straight beams, the home is made of domes.

“Essentially, it holds heat really really well, and because of that you need less of an (air conditioning) and heating load,” BYU senior Erik Bingham said of their design.

The Solar Decathlon is a competition held by the U.S. Department of Energy that consists of 10 contests meant to challenge students to “change and improve our quality of life” through innovation, according to their website.

Bingham is the lead for BYU’s Solar Decathlon Team. He and around 25 other students have been building the home since August 2022.

“It’s a two bedroom, two bath build,” Bingham said. “It’s approximately 800 square feet so it’s a pretty … I mean it’s bigger than my apartment here in Provo, that’s for sure.”

This triple dome home can hold a four-person family, and house them whenever and wherever they decide to move. 

“The whole thing will actually be able to be taken apart, piece by piece, and then put back together wherever it’s going,” Bingham said.

The team will be opening the home for tours once the build is finished. 18 schools across three different countries are building these homes to help find solutions to housing and energy needs.

BYU junior Leah Hart, Documentation Coordinator on the Solar Decathlon Team, said that “the purpose of the Solar Decathlon, like the competition as a whole, is to bring schools together in designing and building these energy efficient homes.”

The team is currently on track to finish their home in March.

“Right now, we’re working on the subfloor and the plumbing systems within the floor,” Hart said.

The team is proud of the hard work that has been done so far, and are excited about what innovations will come next.

Hart said the competition will help students at BYU have a “more sustainable mindset” as they graduate and go into the workforce.

“There’s always a better way,” Bingham said, “and that’s something I’m really proud about.”

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