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UW Solar Decathlon House Near Lander Scoring Near Top

April 10, 2023
people posing inside a house under construction
People involved in the design and construction of the UW Solar Decathlon Build Challenge house pose for a photo earlier in the construction process. From left are: front row, Cory Toye, Timshel Construction; Emmanuel Iddio, a UW Ph.D. student in civil engineering from Ibadan, Nigeria; Dhawal Jain, an assistant lecturer and faculty adviser; and Jon Gardzelewski, an adjunct faculty adviser; middle row, Alison Carlo, a master’s degree student in architectural engineering from Pueblo, Colo.; Erin Christiansen, a junior in architectural engineering from Durango, Colo.; Brenna Jones, a junior in architectural engineering from Gillette; and Britt Bardman, a senior in Spanish from Reading, Pa.; back row, Samuel Spiker, a senior in construction management from Cheyenne; Nick Kulow, a junior in architectural engineering from Lander; and Travis Wicks, a senior in architectural engineering from Casper. (Tony Denzer Photo)

A University of Wyoming student team’s entry so far is scoring near the top in an international competition to design zero-energy buildings.

The solar-powered home in the foothills of Wyoming’s Wind River Mountains is part of the 2023 U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) 20th annual Solar Decathlon Build Challenge. A public open house is scheduled Friday through Sunday, April 14-16, to demonstrate the features of the three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath home, located 10 miles southwest of Lander and overlooking Red Canyon.

The students from UW’s College of Engineering and Physical Sciences are among 11 finalist teams -- selected from 23 collegiate institutions spanning four countries -- that have been awarded $50,000 in prize funding to build and exhibit their groundbreaking, zero-energy buildings this spring.

The UW team trails only Ball State University in the current scores and standings in the contest, based on integrated performance; occupant experience; comfort and environmental quality; and energy performance. The UW team will showcase the home to jurors at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo., April 20-23 for the final awards.

The hours of this week’s open house are noon-5 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday. To get to the house from Lander, take Highway 287 south 7.5 miles to Willow Creek Road; drive southwest on Willow Creek Road for 2.5 miles; turn left onto Bristlecone Road for one mile; then turn left onto Big Sky Road to 26 Big Sky Road and follow the signs.

“We’re excited to invite Wyoming residents to tour the Wind River home,” says Anthony “Tony” Denzer, a professor and department head of UW’s Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering and Construction Management. “The objective of this project is to show Wyoming homebuilders and homeowners that a zero-energy house can be attractive and market-ready.”

Students designed the UW Solar Decathlon Build Challenge house in a “minimal mountain modern” style. It has a super-insulated and air-tight envelope; advanced heating systems, including a heat pump and radiant floors; green building materials; and a large array of solar panels to ensure the home will produce more energy than it consumes on an annual basis. It is being built by Timshel Construction, led by UW alumnus Cory Toye, who is collaborating directly with the student design team. After the competition, the home, on its 6-acre lot, will be made available for sale.

To view the most recent 3D scan of the interiors of the house, visit For more information about the house and the contest, email

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