Kentucky and Indiana Team Build the Phoenix House

The University of Louisville, Ball State University and the University of Kentucky combined forces to built the Phoenix House.  Made to be rapidly deployed after a natural disaster, the house received a 1st place in Energy Balance because it created more energy from the sun than it used.  The overall cost of the house with the energy system and all the appliances was $248,423.

With PV solar panels, the home generated more energy than it needed.

With PV solar panels, the home generated more energy than it needed.

The Solar Decathlon truly tests a home’s performance by putting them through 10 competitions. In order to receive a score in the Entertainment event, each team must host two dinner parties and screen an accompanying film. This tests the home’s general electrical systems and the combined efficiency of the appliances. They aren’t sitting around saving electricity and using candles. They’re watching films on large screen TVs, whipping up Kentucky fried chicken, making multi-course meals and leaving the lights on. It’s all powered by the sun. Here are the Dinner Menus and Recipes from Team Kentuckiana. (It’s a 35 page pdf, but packed with mouth watering recipes. Among them: Derby Tartlets and Pumpkin spiced Kulfi with Valparaiso Carmel Popcorn.)

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  • Exterior cladding made of a fiber cement panel rain screen and reclaimed wood siding is built for high durability and low maintenance.
  • The multipurpose living room transforms into an entertainment space, home office, or extra bedroom and extends to a large deck.
  • An open floor plan with vaulted ceilings and a loft maximizes space and storage.
  • The bathroom doubles as a weather shelter with a steel door, multiple layers of envelope materials, and a non-shattering window.
  • The master bedroom features French doors that open to a private patio enclosed by a grapevine-covered green wall.
  • A natural kitchen garden provides fresh herbs and vegetables.




  • Structural insulated panels in the walls and roof systems enable increased efficiency, ease of construction, and improved structural resistance.
  • The sloped roof houses 7.6 kW of solar panels to power the house.
  • An energy-recovery ventilator constantly exchanges air to provide high air quality.
  • A solar water heating system integrated with the HVAC system increases the overall energy efficiency by sharing energy between the house systems through hot and cold air recovery.
  • A motion-controlled, light-emitting diode lighting system maximizes energy efficiency.
  • A unique wall system enables electrical and data cabling to be quickly installed with connections made behind a removable baseboard.

Final Overall Scores

The team finished in  place with a total of  points.

The team finished in 15th place with a total of 850.079 points.



The Decathlon students passed out thousands of information pamphlets to younger students who will learn more about building science and solar efficient energy.

All of the teams achieved great things in the Solar Decathlon to design, build, finish, dismantle, transport, rebuild, compete in the competition and display the homes (with a smile, over and over and over again) to help educate the public.

They all had amazing, sometimes arduous, yet highly educational and rewarding experiences. The final score is a summation of task completion, monitored performance of the homes and jury evaluations within 10 events.

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Visit the team’s website:


Keya Lea

Keya Lea likes to spend time outside, enjoying the sun.

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