UC Davis Solar Decathlon Team Receives Excellence in Structural Engineering Awards

In recognition of their outstanding achievements designing and building OurH2Ouse

On June 12, 2018 the UC Davis Solar Decathlon team, led by Professor Frank Loge in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, received the Excellence in Structural Engineering Award from the Structural Engineers Association of Central California for their work designing and building OurH2Ouse for the 2017 U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon competition. And on September 14, 2018 the team received a Merit Award at the state level from the Structural Engineers Association of California. These awards represent the “Best of the Best,” serving as models of excellence in structural engineering representing California Structural Engineers.

“I am so proud of the UC Davis Solar Decathlon team. These awards demonstrate the quality of the work they performed,” said Professor Frank Loge. “This experience and recognition will serve the students well as they enter the workforce and continue to drive the advancement of zero net energy homes.”

UC Davis Solar Decathlon team members at the Structural Engineers Association of Central California awards ceremony on June 12 in Sacramento. From left to right, Tom Ryan (project manager), Frank Loge (faculty lead), Norman Scheel (consulting expert), and Shahab Faghri (engineering manager).

UC Davis Solar Decathlon Team

For two years, over 100 undergraduate and graduate students from over twenty disciplines participated on the UC Davis team to design, build and operate a solar-powered house that is cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive. This house was one of twelve different homes that competed in the 2017 U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon in Denver, Colorado. The UC Davis team built OurH2Ouse–an original design that addressed the severe drought in California by cutting the water use in a typical residence in half, while maintaining the same level of comfort at an affordable price point.

Members of the UC Davis Solar Decathlon team.
OurH20use at the 2017 Solar Decathlon competition in Denver, Colorado.


For many years, California has suffered from cyclically-occurring droughts. OurH2Ouse (pronounced “our house”) was designed to address this critical issue through three main design and engineering pillars: drought resilience, education, and inclusiveness.

Innovative educational elements are incorporated throughout OurH20use, including LED displays at every faucet that enable residents to monitor and control their water use.

Unique Features

In designing and building OurH2Ouse, the UC Davis team worked with a number of local experts, including the Norman Scheel Structural Engineering firm. “It was wonderful to work with the students and contribute to their effort,” said Norman Scheel. “They built a house with many impressive structural features that had to take into account not only wind and seismic loads, but also transportation loads and portability as the house had to be transported to the competition over 1200 miles away and reconstructed on site.”

Some of the unique features the students incorporated into the house include:

UC Davis team members working with BamCore onsite.
Diagram illustrating the key components of BamCore.

What’s Next

OurH2Ouse has received a lot of interest. After the Solar Decathlon competition, the house was sold to the city and county of Denver to be integrated into a Habitat for Humanity community, where it will go on to serve a valuable purpose and data will continue to be collected on the home’s performance.

“Our goal was to create a house with a flexible design to encourage widespread incorporation into new and existing neighborhoods, which together can aggregate and impact resource consumption on a greater scale than just a single house. When employed, this sharing and processing power allows these homes to help governmental organizations, utility companies, and communities collectively manage local energy grids and water,” explained Shahab Faghri, engineering manager for the UC Davis Solar Decathlon team and a recent graduate of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Master’s program. “Our design stems from the belief that true, sustained resource reduction is not just the responsibility of technology but is also the responsibility of the people and communities that live in these homes.”