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Embry-Riddle and Daytona State College Homebuilding Team Head to Denver for Solar Decathlon 2017 International Competition

In just a few days, a brand-new, innovative 1,000-square-foot, zero net energy, solar-powered home that survived a hurricane unscathed will appear in a pop-up solar village in Denver, Colo., for an international competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy.

The BEACH House (BEACH stands for Building Efficient, Affordable and Comfortable Homes) was finished this week by a team of students from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Daytona State College (DSC), assisted by faculty, university staff and local builders. That’s the good news for everyone involved in the project.

The bad news was the manic scramble to get the home completed because of 10 days of construction time lost when Hurricane Irma hit Florida.

After a year and a half of fundraising, design, planning and building to meet the Solar Decathlon 2017 competition deadline, Team Daytona Beach found themselves working around the clock after the hurricane. An all-hands-on-deck effort this last week included additional student volunteers and the talented tradesmen from the Embry-Riddle facilities management team that helped to get the home finished.

Absurdly, because the competition is in Denver in a week, the team immediately took the house apart so it could be shipped to the competition site. And that would not have happened without the generous support of the James A. Jones Construction Company, which made a big crane available to hoist the deconstructed home onto flatbed trucks for the trip to Colorado during the last couple of hectic days.

In Denver, members of the team are reassembling the BEACH House at the competition site near  Denver International Airport. The competition, organized by the U.S. Department of Energy, includes collegiate teams from around the world and takes place Oct. 5-15.

Leading the team and constructing the home through the summer were a core group of students led by Mechanical Engineering Graduate Teaching Assistant and team lead Jenna Beckwith and project lead Thomas Freeman. Students working on the home included Michael Jividen, Abdellah Azeez, Bryan Elwell, Mark Christake, Alex Mehringer and several students who belong to the local chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers

John and Spencer Buckman provided professional expertise, as did Embry-Riddle professors Rafael Rodriguez, Sandra Boetcher and Jeff Brown, as well as research architect and DSC professor Stephanie Thomas-Rees.

Team Daytona Beach’s home being reassembled and showcased in Denver is one of 11 high-tech, solar-powered, energy-efficient small homes that were constructed on each school’s campus and then relocated to the Solar Decathlon Village in Denver.

The 1,000-square-foot BEACH House is a forever home designed for a small family to live sustainably, without sacrificing comfort. It features an open floor plan that will provide the energy-saving ability of a high-tech house at an affordable price and is constructed to perform cost-effectively in Central Florida’s hot and humid climate. The home is also designed to withstand hurricane force winds and rain. It was put through a nail-biting, unexpected real-life test just two weeks ago as Hurricane Irma ravaged Florida. The home performed flawlessly.

A team of almost 25 students and faculty from DSC and Embry-Riddle will be in Denver to finish construction and act as hosts when the homes are open to the public.

The home’s layout features an open floor plan with cross ventilation throughout, strategic window placement to draw in natural lighting and reduce energy consumption, nano-door technology and other features designed for comfort, sustainability and aging in place, including compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Other innovative features include a hydroponic garden that is irrigated through rainwater collection and a ductless HVAC system that will allow temperature control in each room. The structure uses 100 percent recycled cellulose insulation, Energy Star rated appliances and a 95 percent post-consumer recycled aluminum roof that will support the rooftop solar array joined to a whole-house battery storage system.

The 11 teams in the Solar Decathlon 2017 competition will be judged on criteria that include architecture, market appeal, engineering, affordability and energy balance. Solar Decathlon teams will be competing for a share of the $2 million in prize money offered by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Watch a video on the Solar Decathlon and Team Daytona Beach.

Members of the public will be able to tour the homes in the Solar Decathlon Village from Oct. 5 to 9 and again from Oct. 12 to 15 with each school’s students acting as guides. There will be also be a sustainability expo with organizations displaying the newest energy solutions and services to consumers.

Go online to learn more about The BEACH House and how you can support Team Daytona Beach.

The BEACH House sponsors include Florida Power and Light, Society of American Military Engineers, Rockwell Collins, American Society of Heating, Daikin, Buckman Engineering, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers Spacecoast Chapter, Blomberg, Hudson’s Furniture, Tesla Powerwall, Florida Green Building Coalition, Goodwin Company, Polk State Corporate College, TRAMCON Consortium, PipeFlow, Brown & Brown Insurance, WAC Lighting, and Federal Brace. Special thanks goes out to the staff of Embry-Riddle Facilities Management.

Learn more about the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2017 at


Offering more than 100 certificate, associate and bachelor's degree programs, Daytona State College has responded to the education and workforce training needs of Volusia and Flagler counties and beyond for more than 50 years. The college enrolls nearly 28,000 students a year at its seven instructional sites, with graduates serving in critical fields including health care, emergency services, business, education, hospitality, engineering, technology and more.

Daytona State has been recognized as a leader in higher education numerous times, most recently by U.S. News & World Report, which ranked the college among the Top 10 Best Online Bachelor's Programs in the nation in 2016, for the fourth year running. The U.S. Department of Education's College Affordability and Transparency Center has ranked DSC among the top 50 most affordable public four-year institutions in the country, with less than half the tuition of the national average. Community College Week, a leading publication in higher education, annually continues to feature the college in its list of Top 100 Associate Degree Producers. In 2015 and 2016, U.S. News & World Report ranked DSC among Top Online Bachelor's Programs for Veterans.


Laurie White,, (386) 506-4499
Marketing & Communications,, (386) 506-4588 – A Member of the Florida College System.



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Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, the world’s largest, fully accredited university specializing in aviation and aerospace, is a nonprofit, independent institution offering more than 80 baccalaureate, master’s and Ph.D. degree programs in its colleges of Arts & Sciences, Aviation, Business, Engineering and Security & Intelligence. Embry-Riddle educates students at residential campuses in Daytona Beach, Fla., and Prescott, Ariz., through the Worldwide Campus with more than 125 locations in the United States, Europe, Asia and the Middle East, and through online programs. The university is a major research center, seeking solutions to real-world problems in partnership with the aerospace industry, other universities and government agencies. For more information, visit, follow us on Twitter (@EmbryRiddle) and, and find expert videos at