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BYU solar decathlon team builds energy-efficient ‘Triple Dome Home’

By Sarah Hunt - | May 2, 2023

Courtesy BYU Solar Decathlon

The Triple Dome Home stands on BYU campus in this undated photo.

In an effort to create affordable and sustainable starter homes, the Brigham Young University Solar Decathlon team has spent the last two semesters building the “Triple Dome Home,” a two-bedroom, two-bathroom home that requires minimal temperature control.

“While unconventional, domes present significant sustainability benefits unique to its structure,” said Leah Hart, student and team documentation coordinator. “We chose the three podular dome orientation because we need to be able to transport the home (to competitions). We designed each pod to separate from one another and be small enough to fit onto a semi-truck.”

The home was built as a project for the Solar Decathlon, a contest hosted by the the U.S. Department of Energy encouraging students to come up with solutions to “mitigate climate change and improve our quality of life through greater affordability, resilience, (innovation) and energy efficiency.”

The home uses vinyl and cork board sustainable flooring, low-flow shower heads that reduce water usage from up to 3 gallons per minute to 1.5 gallons per minute, high efficiency water-saving toilets, triple-pane energy efficient windows, Energy Star rated appliances, as well as a windproof, fireproof and extreme-temperature resistant exterior.

“I am most proud of the windows. They are very thermally efficient so they’ll save the homeowner money on heating and cooling, and they have a beautiful, sleek, modern look. They’re the perfect combination of design and functionality,” said Ally Atchley, a member of the construction team. “This taught me about the supply chain issues the construction industry is currently facing firsthand. It gave me the opportunity to problem solve and find some creative solutions.”

Courtesy BYU Solar Decathlon

The BYU Solar Decathlon team stands inside the Triple Dome Home in this undated photo.

The home can be taken apart and transported, allowing the homeowner to take it with them if they decide to relocate. It currently sits on BYU property and will remain there for people to tour this June during the Utah Valley Parade of Homes.

In October, the team will take the home on the road to compete in the Orange County Sustainability Decathlon. Approximately 30 students and faculty advisors contributed to the project.

“Being in school, we learn a lot of book smarts, but this project has given us a lot of hands-on experience with not just the physical process of building a home, but the emotional as well, putting our time and energy into this with a group of other people,” said Andy Rodriguez, the team’s interior design lead. “We hear how important communication is for a project and I’m seeing that lesson in real time. Collaboration and clear communication can vastly improve a team’s ability to meet goals.”

The Triple Dome Home has an attached car port that features double-sided solar panels. This undated photo was taken on BYU campus.

The BYU Solar Decathlon team won licensing for their energy-efficient home design in 2022.


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