KU team to build solar home in KC as part of national competition; house will provide shelter to victims of domestic abuse

photo by: Rick Hellman / KU News Service

Chad Kraus, KU associate professor of architecture, with a model of the home Dirt Works Studio will build in Kansas City, Kansas, as part of the 2023 Solar Decathlon Build Challenge.

A KU design team has been selected for a national solar energy competition, and its entry will be a unique home in Kansas City, Kansas, that provides shelter to victims of domestic abuse.

The University of Kansas’ Dirt Work Studios is one of 14 teams selected to compete in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon.

Dirt Works Studio, which is part of KU’s School of Architecture & Design, plans to construct a new home in the historic Strawberry Hill neighborhood of Kansas City. The design extensively uses solar energy, so much so that the goal is for the house to be a “net-zero” or better home, meaning it will create as much or more energy than it uses.

The KU studio received a $50,000 grant from the Department of Energy, and it is partnering with the Kansas City nonprofit The Good Work to build the home, which is expected to cost about $300,000.

When completed, the home will serve as shelter for a parent and children who have fled from an abusive relationship. A team of KU students will do most of the construction work this summer and over the next school year.

At the end of the project, KU’s work will be judged against the other competitors in the project, which include Penn State, University of California-Berkeley, the University of Colorado and others.

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