The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Illinois Solar Decathlon donates sustainable house to single mother, family of 3

Illinois Solar Decathlon, a student-led organization at the University, collaborated with Habitat for Humanity to donate a house powered entirely by sustainable energy to a family of three. The organization competes to design and build projects that use sustainable energy with a focus on solar energy with RENU-House being their latest project.

According to Julie Wang, communications director for Illinois Solar Decathlon, RENU-House produces as much solar energy as it uses, allowing the house to be its own self-reliant source of energy.

“It’s a 1500-square-feet net zero home,” Wang said.

The house has the potential to create more energy than it needs. This excess energy can be sold back to the grid and used somewhere else, Wang explained. 

As part of a two year competition cycle, Illinois Solar Decathlon students designed RENU-House to be efficient, reliable and comfortable for any family to live in. A construction team was then hired to bring the design into reality.

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    “This house was designed with a single family in mind,” Wang said.

    The house, which was donated in mid-October, was donated to a family of three consisting of a single mother who is an intermittent wheelchair user and her pregnant daughter. The house is ADA compliant and is equipped with fire-resistant metal roofing able to withstand severe weather conditions.

    “We just had our open house ceremony, like, a few weeks ago, and about nine days before that happened, the daughter actually had her baby,” Wang shared. 

    To donate to RENU-House, Illinois Solar Decathlon partnered with Habitat for Humanity to get into contact with a family that is in need of a home.

    “They’re the ones that put us into contact with the family owners, and so once we figured that out, we were able to design the house based on their needs,” Wang explained.

    Aside from competing, Illinois Solar Decathlon takes their projects a step further and helps people. The projects are encouraged to be applicable and used in the real world.

    “We don’t just try to hit bare minimum,” Wang said. “We try to exceed that and really give the project a deeper purpose.”

    Illinois Solar Decathlon aims to design, build and potentially donate more structures to better the lives of people in need. Through research, collaboration and dedication, the student-led organization hopes to make a difference.

    “I’m proud of the scope of our project, because even if we don’t do that good in the competition, it’s fine because our projects go beyond that,” Wang said.

     

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