Sam Durkin, of the University of California, Berkeley, walks past a moss wall on the north side of the RISE home that a combined DU/UC Berkeley team of students created for the Department of Energy’s 2017 Solar Decathlon competition. Durkin and his student teammates created the moss wall because they wanted a living wall that was low maintenance, can grow in many different climates, was simple and still helps filter our air. 

The University of Denver, which teamed up with the University of California, Berkeley, came third in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2017 for the group’s house designed specifically for the city of Richmond, Calif.

The Solar Decathlon is a challenge for college teams to build and operate highly energy-efficient and innovative solar houses. The main event includes 10 competitions involving architecture, market potential, engineering, smart water solutions and innovation. Eleven teams competed.

 “The creativity and ingenuity of the students is very impressive. The amount of the thoughtfulness, the attention to detail, it’s really impressive,” said Daniel Simmons, the Department of Energy’s acting assistant secretary for renewable energy and energy efficient. “Just the passion that they put into all of the homes, it’s really really impressive and heartwarming.”

The RISE house is designed to support Richmond as it transforms from suburban neighborhoods to a city that’s public transit and community oriented. The RISE house model has modular, stackable houses with flexible floor plans that include movable walls and a deck that is the same size of the house to support communal living.

The Swiss Team, which has students from four Swiss universities, won the overall competition. Their project called NeighborHub is a home that also includes multifunctional spaces, such as a dining room for a community meal, conference space for educational workshops and a bike repair shop or local market. It has a green roof, aquaponics for breeding fish and a “dry” toilet that does not need water, but instead uses worms to treat and recycle waste.

Watch this video (below) for more information: