Modular and sustainable building technology

Solar Decathlon 2017

Selficient participated in the Solar Decathlon 2017 in Denver, Colorado, USA. This is an initiative of the U.S Department of Energy. It’s an international competition that challenges university teams from all over the world to design, build and operate their own sustainable and solar-powered house. The competition takes place every two years.

The competition

From September 2015, we, as students from the University of Applied Sciences Utrecht, worked together integrally on the Solar Decathlon 2017 project. During the project, the number of team members grew from 10 students, with initially a technical background, to 23 and at its peak to 75 students, including team members with backgrounds in architecture, mechanical engineering, electro engineering, communication, business development, law, logistics and event management.
The team members worked on elaborating the house’s design, drawing up plans for the execution of the competition, brand awareness, and delivering deadlines to the competition management. A prototype was built at the Eneco Energy Campus in Utrecht from May 2017. This house was demounted, packed in sea containers and transported to the USA. After two hurricanes nearly knocked us out of the competition, around 30 students perfectly rebuilt the house for the second time in September 2017 to compete with the other universities. The competition was split up into different sub-competitions; architecture, engineering, innovation, water use and recycling, energy use, health and comfort, use of household appliances, home life, communication and market potential.
During the public exhibition, people who were interested were able to visit the competition site to view the houses built there and to take guided tours. Around 7.200 people visited the Selficient house in 9 days, approximately 800 per day. Not only technical experts and interested people were among the visitors, but also day trippers, families and children. There was a lot of interest for our new construction method, the life phase resistance and our approach to the energy and water system. It was often praised that in the eyes of the visitors, the Selficient house was the only house in the competition that people would want to and could live in. It was regularly said that our house was the only house that felt like a real home.
After the successful competition, it took us 3 days to demount the house and make sure it was ready for transport. Once arrived in the Netherlands, the house was built on a permanent location. The Selficient house is thus built 3 times, demounted twice and was transported across a huge distance. This goes to show that our circular and modular character meets its mark. The Selficient house will continue under supervision of the University of applied sciences Utrecht as a “living lab” at the Utrecht Science Park and has been renamed the Denver House. We are happy to give an extended tour of the house by appointment.

Results we achieved

During the course of the project, Selficient has been brought to the attention by several different Dutch media and publications: NOS, NPO, AD, RTV Utrecht, De Utrechtse Internet Courant, NEMO and Renault Life. The student project of the University of applied science Utrecht has been designated as an icon project and a new learning method. The student team members received an award from the University of applied sciences Utrecht (the HU-genotenprijs) for their amazing efforts and achievements.
Whilst competing in the Solar Decathlon, Selficient has won the following awards:
- Public’s choice award
- 2nd prize Market potential
- 3rd prize Water use and recycling
- 4th prize Architecture
With a total of 750 out of 1000 points. we finished in 7th place. There was a difference of 10 points between the 4th and 8th place, so we can say that we were a good match and were not inferior to other universities participating in the Solar Decathlon 2017.

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