These Denver Students Are Helping to Lead the Way in Sustainable Housing

KUSA – The future is green! So are the houses being entered in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon competition.

Students from the University of Denver and the University of California at Berkley will be working out in the heat of the summer to complete their house for the competition in October.

A team of students from UC Berkley was chosen to compete in the decathlon back in 2015. They immediately got to work creating plans for a zero net energy house.

Courtesy: University of Denver

“We started it as a supplement to our classwork to get a little practical, hands-on knowledge that we could use alongside the things we were learning in the classroom,” said Sam Burkin, President of the UC Berkley Decathlon Team.

After a year and a half of work, students were excited to begin construction, but weren’t quite sure where to start. A professor from DU’s Franklin L. Burns School of Real Estate and Construction Management reached out to the UC Berkley team, suggesting an alliance.

“When he reached out we kind of realized that the University of Denver has the experience and the home field advantage of constructing here in Denver,” Burkin said.

Courtesy: University of Denver

That home field advantage is key, considering students are expected to transport their 600 to 1000-square-foot homes from the building site to the competition site. This year the competition site is in Denver at 61st and Peña Station.

After the competition in October, the house will be transported again to its final destination.

Team UC Berkley has decided this destination will be in Richmond, California, a suburb just north of Berkley. A lot has already been chosen, with the help of the Richmond Community Foundation. The students hope the house will be sold to first time owners from the community.

Courtesy: University of Denver

“We really wanted to make sure that our design could appeal to everybody,” said Burkin.

The house comes with four exterior walls and four flexible, mobile interior walls. This way residents can adjust the amount of rooms and the size of the rooms to fit their needs.

“We are hoping that people are taking a look at the concepts and the innovations that we’ve used within the home and are able to apply them,” Burkin said. “Whether it be the whole concept or just parts of it.”

Courtesy: University of Denver

About 20 percent of the construction is finished, and the rest should be done by the end of August. This will give the team plenty of time to do final inspections, transport the house, and just have a little bit of fun with it before the competition in October.

© 2017 KUSA-TV

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