Student Solar Team Gets $150k Grant

Student Solar Team Gets $150k Grant

Urbana, Ill. — The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign received $150,000 from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation (ICECF) to support the 2020 Solar Decathlon ADAPTHAUS project.

Illinois Solar Decathlon (ISD) is an interdisciplinary student organization pursuing environmental sustainability through green building, sustainable engineering, and community outreach. The award-winning Build Team (pictured) has competed in U.S. Department of Energy-funded international contests for 13 years and is now in the midst of the 2020 U.S. Solar Decathlon Build Challenge.

Exterior rendering of the ADAPTHAUS model.

Exterior rendering of the ADAPTHAUS model. Photo courtesy of the Illinois Solar Decathlon Team

Participants must construct a livable, full-size, solar-powered home. ISD’s entry, ADAPTHAUS, is true to its name: a net-zero-energy model specializing in adaptability. While climate-conscious construction (i.e., window treatments and insulation) accounts for seasonal extremes and advanced solar arrays offer trackable energy savings, the cost-effective, modular layout of ADAPTHAUS means that as a family grows, the home can as well.

The Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (iSEE) applied for this grant from ICECF, a financial contributor to Illinois’ Solar Decathlon competitions since 2007. SolHomes, Inc., a nonprofit created by ISD leadership, will own, finance, and execute the project.

“A project of this scale requires steadfast support from the University and like-minded institutions,” said Jonah Messinger, student President of SolHomes, Inc. and former ISD President. “iSEE has been that rock for the Illinois Solar Decathlon team. Their assistance in acquiring this tremendous grant is only the most recent example of their support.

“This grant would, of course, not have been possible without the backing of the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation. Illinois Solar Decathlon continues to be extremely grateful to the Foundation for their belief in our mission.”

Upon completion, the team is exploring potential use-cases for the installation, including a partnership with the local Habitat for Humanity chapter.

“Our students are future-oriented in their approach to sustainability. The ADAPTHAUS project is a perfect example of applying innovative architecture, engineering, and design to advance not only solar technologies, but the resilience and well-being of our local communities,” said iSEE Baum Family Director and project PI Evan H. DeLucia.

Internal rendering of ADAPTHAUS depicts a man sitting on a couch within one of the modules, watching television.

Internal rendering of ADAPTHAUS. Photo courtesy of the Illinois Solar Decathlon Team

Other major contributors include the U.S. Department of Energy, the University of Illinois Student Sustainability Committee (SSC), the University of Illinois Office of the Provost, and various industrial sponsors.

The 2020 U.S. Solar Decathlon Build Challenge began in 2018 and will extend into Spring 2021 due to COVID-19 delays. In April, the two ADAPTHAUS modules will be shipped from Skender Construction’s Chicago factory to their permanent home at 1202 N. Walnut St., Champaign, Ill.

ICECF is an independent foundation endowed by Commonwealth Edison with a focus on transforming Illinois’ approach to renewable energy and conservation. Read more about the Foundation.

For more information about ISD and competition updates, visit the organization’s website and read a feature story by iSEE.