Three Teams Advance to 2024 Solar Decathlon Finals

March 28, 2024
Adjunct Lecturer David Brubaker, Senior Lecturer Laura Carr, and Architecture Students
CAPLA will send three teams to the finals of the 2024 Solar Decathlon Design Challenge
Golden, CO
April 19-21
Solar Decathlon Students Visiting the Hopi Nation

In January, Solar Decathlon Studio students visited the Hopi Nation as part of the Native Peoples Design Coalition to design parts of the new Tawa' Ovi masterplan community. Input from the Hopi community is helping to drive the students' own designs for the Solar Decathlon Competition.

The College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture is sending three teams to the final stage of the 2024 U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon Design Challenge in Colorado.  

The U.S. Department of Energy hosts the Solar Decathlon Design Challenge annually, which gathers students worldwide to present their teams' innovative technologies and designs aimed at fostering the development of the next generation of clean energy buildings. This year, teams from CAPLA will compete alongside students from 37 other universities worldwide, including some from as far as Tehran, Iran. 

Students had the opportunity to compete in four distinct divisions, each with its unique set of criteria and requirements. These divisions include: Single-Family Housing, Attached Housing, Multifamily Building, and Education Building. CAPLA is participating in the Attached Housing Division, Multifamily Building Division, and the Education Building Division.

CAPLA has a rich history of success in the competition, placing multiple teams as finalists or winners in each of the last four years. In 2023, a team took third place in the Attached Housing Division, while the preceding year saw another team chosen as the Design Challenge Grand Winner for Commercial Divisions

What's unique about the students' design projects is their connection with the Hopi Tribe. Through the Native Peoples Design Coalition, the Hopi Tribe sought assistance in designing a master plan for a new modern community called Tawa 'Ovi. The coalition, housed within the Drachman Institute and led by CAPLA Senior Lecturer Laura Carr, reached out to Adjunct Lecturer and Solar Decathlon Advisor David Brubaker to facilitate the partnership. 

Together, the students were able to visit the Hopi Tribe in northern Arizona and meet with community leaders to gain a better understanding of the culture and design needs. As it happened, the requirements of the Hopi community aligned with the goals for the Solar Decathlon, making the partnership a perfect fit. 

Jedidiah Perea, a fourth-year B. Arch student, is on the team competing in the Attached Housing Division. He said the Solar Decathlon experience has been a "full circle moment" for him as he's able to work on a design project with real world impact.  

"This semester's experience of developing a real design solution that is going to be used and adopted, and that accomplishes these net-zero and environmentally passive goals, is in line with what we're learning about architecture and how I personally believe architecture should be practiced," he said.

The competition will be held April 19-21 at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado. 


Subscribe to The Studio

Sign up for CAPLA's monthly e-newsletter to get the latest news and events, insights from faculty and leadership, profiles of students and alumni and more.

Subscribe Now

Latest CAPLA News, Projects and Profiles

Esther M. Sternberg

In the News: Dr. Esther Sternberg Discusses Office Design Impact on Wellbeing, Productivity

University of Arizona professor of medicine Dr. Esther Sternberg, director of the Institute on Place, Well-being and Performance and research director at the Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine, shares her research examining how work environments effect people's health and productivity.