Kentucky-Indiana collegiate team begins solar house construction


    LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Phoenix House – a combined Kentucky-Indiana effort to build the best solar-powered house in the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2013 Solar Decathlon – is rising on the University of Louisville’s Belknap Campus.

    The student-faculty Team Kentuckiana that includes UofL, Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., and University of Kentucky is among 20 that qualified internationally to design, build and exhibit solar-powered houses at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, Calif., Oct. 3-13.

    Construction began today with a ceremony and work session attended by team members and university officials. The energy-efficient, wood-and-metal structure called Phoenix House is a prototype two-bedroom residence for disaster relief; the team chose the design partially in response to last spring’s damaging tornadoes in Kentucky and Indiana.

    “As Team Kentuckiana’s design, Phoenix House is intended to function as a permanent housing solution for reconstruction after natural disasters, specifically in tornado-prone areas. It will produce more energy than it uses and is designed to be very durable and affordable,” said project faculty mentor Mark McGinley, UofL endowed chair in infrastructure research.

    The houses are to highlight renewable energy systems and energy-efficient technologies, products and appliances already available to homeowners. The competition includes 10 categories: architecture, market appeal, engineering, communications, affordability, comfort zone, hot water, appliances, home entertainment and energy balance.

    Phoenix House will be constructed mostly at UofL and then shipped to California and reassembled by students this fall at the competition site.

    The team’s effort has been supported for more than a year by UofL’s J.B. Speed School of Engineering; Ball State’s College of Architecture, Interior Design and Construction Management programs; UofL’s Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research; UofL’s College of Business; UofL’s College of Arts and Sciences (communication and English departments); and UK’s School of Engineering.

    For more information, check or contact McGinley at 502-852-4068 or

    Judy Hughes
    Judy Hughes is a senior communications and marketing coordinator for UofL’s Office of Communications and Marketing and associate editor of UofL Magazine. She previously worked in news as a writer and editor for a daily newspaper and The Associated Press.