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  The UAB Solar House

In 2017, a group of exceptional students designed and built the UAB Solar House to compete in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon Competition. Their goal was to maximize the energy efficiency of the house without sacrificing comfort, livability, and style. Once the competition was over, the house was transported back and rebuilt on UAB's campus. It is now part of a UAB Sustainability neighborhood project that demonstrates how we can easily incorporate sustainability into our daily lives.

The UAB Solar House is 1,000 sq. ft. and powered by the sun. The house is “islanded,” meaning it is not tied to the city’s electrical grid. The Solar House and Sustainable Neighborhood is located at 1637 11th Ave S and is open to the general public. To schedule a tour book a 15 minute timeslot.


  • Windows, Walls, and High Ceilings

    The Solar House has a tightly sealed building envelope, high ceilings, and plenty of indirect natural lighting. These features help keep the house well-lit while also using very little energy to keep the interior cool or heated. Most of the windows are north-facing so the sun never shines directly into the house, keeping the rooms bright and making them easier to cool. The house was designed for Alabama, so when the west and east windows are open, a cool cross-breeze blows through the house.

  • Ductless A/C Units

    The house has four ductless air-conditioning units for when additional cooling is needed. These units are more energy efficient than standard A/C central air units and do not require ductwork. This makes it easier to insulate the house.

  • Energy Efficient Appliances

    The appliances in the kitchen were specifically chosen because they are energy efficient. For example, the range is an electric convection stovetop, meaning it does not get hot until in contact with a pot or pan. The combination washer/dryer was chosen to save space and is more energy efficient than standard washer/dryer units. The house has a hybrid electric 50 gallon water heater, which is nine times more efficient than standard water heaters.

  • EPA Sponsored Toilets

    These use 20% less water than a normal toilet.

  • Off-Grid Street Lamps

    These lamps are powered by wind and solar, which charge a battery at the base. These batteries store enough power to allow the lamps to be lit throughout the night.

  • Tornado Shelter

    Alabama consistently ranks among the top 10 states for number of tornadoes annually. Since the 1990s, the frequency and destructiveness of tornadoes in the state has been rapidly accelerating; therefore, severe weather preparation is a growing priority for many homeowners. Students at UAB’s Materials Processing and Applications Development (MPAD) Center combined thermoplastic and fiberglass resins to create panels that are stronger than steel yet weigh 80 percent less. This tornado-safe room is designed for quick installation, follows FEMA standards, and can withstand 250 mph winds.

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