The recently announced 2023 Solar Decathlon results continued a trend of projects with Phius-inspired designs and/or participation from the Phius community earning high honors.

This year, the Build Challenge Overall 1st Place Winner was The Alley House project from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, which used Phius principles and will be pursuing Phius certification via the Phius CORE Prescriptive Path. Walter Grondzik, a Phius Board member and Professor of Architecture at Ball State, is serving as a faculty advisor on the project, assisting in the planning and design, as well as the pursuit of Phius certification.

Led by Cardinal Studio, The Alley House addresses gentrification pressure, promotes neighborhood revitalization, and facilitates lifestyle growth for local families. The finished building infills a vacant lot with an affordable two-family, net-positive energy home that activates public alleys, and integrates sustainable landscape design criteria and Phius passive house principles. This prototype building design showcases energy efficiency, offers community engagement opportunities, and creates a desirable, safe, functional, and healthy home to sustain two families while supporting sustainability and affordable living. A number of tours of The Alley House were recently held to showcase the project and build awareness of sustainable building practices in the community.

This year’s Solar Decathlon Design Challenge also included a third-place finisher from University of Arizona led by Phius Certified Consultant (CPHC®) David Brubaker. The Casa Verde project is an attached housing prototype designed to help infill neighborhoods in South Tucson with affordable, sustainable housing. 

A previous Solar Decathlon Design Challenge winner, SunBlock, in Tucson, Arizona, turns saved energy into stored energy, combining Phius passive building standards, solar PV, heat pumps, and thermal energy storage to provide affordable, fail-safe cooling to a low-income community. SunBlock generates carbon-neutral thermal energy and shares it with the neighborhood for an affordable cooling solution – helping the environment and delivering savings on energy bills to those who need it most.

Phius is actively involved in the Solar Decathlon, driving impact with innovative designs and supporting the educational experience for students who participate. As the leading standard for high-performance buildings, Phius has long been closely associated with the Solar Decathlon. Phius staff members, board members, and certified professionals have all participated in various capacities, including members of the Phius staff consulting on Solar Decathlon projects for a number of years.

Phius’ mission is to create a built environment that supports the health of people and the planet – innovators like those involved in the Solar Decathlon are the future leaders of this vital endeavor. We look forward to celebrating all the creative and sustainable Solar Decathlon entries for years to come!

The Alley House Virtual Walkthrough

Get a virtual tour of The Alley House Solar Decathlon winning project