Each year students from the Estopinal College of Architecture and Planning compete in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon Design Challenge. This year, CAP had two teams taking third place in two categories, the “Urban Single-Family” and  “Elementary School” divisions.

The purpose of the competion is to challenge students to design and build highly efficient and innovative buildings powered by renewable energy while accomplishing a blend of design and engineering innovation, market potential, building efficiency, and smart energy production.

In preparation for the design challenge, 4th year undergraduate students and 1st year graduate students use their cumulative knowledge to prepare and fine tune their projects during spring semester. The qualifying students normally attend a weekend at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado to present their projects and attend the awards banquet but, this year, students submitted their written documents and presentations online and participated in a virtual awards ceremony.

View the projects from this years teams.


Urban Single-Family Housing  – 3rd Place
Project Indy: Infill Reimagined Nest – Near East Side

Student Team
Kolton Behrent
Samantha Felling
Cheyenne Kalb
Grace Lehmann
Alexandra Lawburg
Andy Jackson
Evan Johnson
Noah Gibson
Darrin Shedrow
Isaac Wilson– Team Consultant

Faculty Mentors
Tom Collins – Advisor
Walter Grondzik – Building Performance Advisor

Project Summary

225 North Oxford St. was chosen as the Urban Single Family home site because of its array of possibilities. The site currently sits empty between 2 existing homes. Oxford Street has immediate access to E Washington Street, providing access to bus routes and immediate necessities. The parcel sits only 1 block from the local library branch and multiple community churches. Oxford Street is a residential street with large, matured trees and a community garden. Our site is an infill lot which will help repair the fabric of an intact residential street. With multiple vacant lots on Washington Street, there is great potential for future neighborhood development.

Design Strategies

The Solar Decathlon Design Challenge requires its teams to go above and beyond by making the Department of Energy Zero Energy Read Home Requirements the standard to meet. Underneath the DOE ZERH umbrella, the EnergyStar Homes, IECC 2015, EPA Indoor airPLUS, and PV-Ready Checklist requirements must be met. The NEST team from Ball State University takes it a step further. By meeting and, in some cases, exceeding the Passive House Institute United States 2021 Prescrip- tive Pathway requirements, this project has reached the pinnacle of energy efficient and environmentally responsible homes. The current and potential needs of an Indianapolis single family drives the team to actively design for aging in place, providing the resources for a family to remain in their home for as long as possible and as comfortably as possible. Following the Indianapolis codes and guidelines, the team consistently pursues a design that not only refrains from harming the environment and community but aids in the creation of renewable energy. Our team aims to design an adaptable space to “age in place” that is affordable, comfortable, and appealing to an urban single family.

View their 20 minute presentation here.



Elementary School Division – 3rd Place
Mallory Park Elementary School

Student Team
Nichola Sobota – Team Lead
Grace Bartko – Team Member
Favian Cervantes – Team Member
Robert Graff – Team Member
Kevin Hundt – Team Member
Jordan Jones – Team Member
Trisha Martin – Team Member
Maria Moore – Team Consultant

Faculty Mentors
Daniel Overbey – General Advisor
Desma Belsaas – Professional Advisor
Patrick Kestner – Professional Advisor
Walter Grondzik – Environmental Systems Advisor
Tarek Mahfouz – Construction Mgmt. Advisor
Megan Phillippe – Community Eng. Advisor

Project Summary

Spaces for learning must inspire users to open their minds and enrich their spirits. Mallory Park Elementary School’s mission is to make hands on learning accessible to everyone, from small children to the community’s seniors. Mallory Park is designed to enhance and continue to develop the strong themes of sustainable design, green living, and agricultural education that are already highlighted as important by the surrounding Englewood Village neighborhood. We view sustainable as including easily maintained, long-lasting materials, high- performance building systems and inspiring details that encourage learning. Our location enables the creation of a community campus and is central to ongoing community integration. The combination of visible sustainable practices, flexible learning spaces, community support areas and dynamic architecture inspires and stimulates both building occupants and the surrounding community.

Design Strategies

With the project goals in mind, the team’s design strategy includes a tight building envelope and energy efficient systems while providing excellent indoor environmental quality to Mallory Park Elementary School occupants. The design team is also exploring innovative elements such as inclusive restrooms, flexible gathering spaces, and universally designed environmental education areas.

View their 20 minute presentation here.

Read more about the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon Design Challenge here.
View the 2021 Category winners here.