After years of research and development contributed by over 100 Virginia Tech students and faculty, the FutureHAUS Dubai team has officially built the world’s best solar home.
The lone American team earned a first-place victory over 14 other selected teams and more than 60 total entrants of the 2018 Solar Decathlon Middle East, a competition launched by the United States Department of Energy and the United Arab Emirates’ Dubai Electricity & Water Authority. The global competition aimed to accelerate research on building sustainable, grid-connected, solar homes.
The win follows nearly two decades of research and two years of accelerated development, overcoming a fire that burned down a previous iteration of the house, and more than a month spent in a desert in the outskirts of Dubai, where two dozen students and faculty erected the entire house.
The concept of FutureHAUS Dubai was brought to life through a university-wide effort, combining talents and research from Virginia Tech’s College of Architecture and Urban Studies, College of Engineering, Myers-Lawson School of Construction, Pamplin College of Business, College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, College of Science, and various centers and labs within.
“We have the most interdisciplinary team that we’ve ever had around any research project, and that’s what it takes. That’s the secret,” said Joe Wheeler, architecture professor and lead faculty of FutureHAUS Dubai. “That’s the formula to making something this amazing.”
The Solar Decathlon Middle East juries agreed. In addition to winning first place overall, the team earned top three in nearly all sub-contests: first place in architecture, first place in creative solutions, second place in energy efficiency, second place in interior design, third place in sustainability, and third place in engineering and construction.
According to team members, this success was largely due to a reliance on interdisciplinary knowledge. Each member contributed their unique set of skills, expertise, and life experience, filling in smaller parts of a bigger picture.