Welcome to the Inter House Team! We are excited to be on this journey toward the Solar Decathlon Africa and cannot wait to share the experience with you.

Three months ago, our team came about joining this competition through some strange circumstances to say the least – but those events are exactly what also made it feel so right to enter. Colorado School of Mines, a small engineering school in Golden, CO (USA) has been working on a project called Mines Tiny House for the last three years. This began when several graduate students and advisor Tim Ohno wanted to enter the Solar Decathlon 2017, but realized it was a larger endeavor than they were prepared to take on at the time. Instead, they decided recreating the decathlon on a small – or rather tiny – scale was the right thing to do. So, since then we have built a team and are nearing completion on a net-zero, solar-powered tiny house (roughly 215 ft2). Through this experience, we as a student group have learned about sustainable building, formed strong relationships with industry professionals and partners, and have discovered many energy efficient materials and products that would mimic what is seen in houses actually competing in the Solar Decathlon. Along with informing many decisions the Inter House Team is now making, Mines Tiny House is serving as an education and outreach tool to Mines Students and the surrounding community.

When the time came around to apply for a competition that would be occurring over the next several years (in order to ensure that the students working on Mines Tiny House would have the opportunity to participate in the Solar Decathlon as well before graduation), the Solar Decathlon Africa was truly the only competition that fit our timeline. Our thoughts initially? Crazy idea! No way can we send a house to Morocco! Our team is too small to go international! But there is one thing about Tim Ohno – he has connections everywhere you can imagine, and if he doesn’t, he can make them quick.

After reaching out to a fellow physics professor (who had previously done research at Mines), Tim had us partnered with Université Cadi Ayyad located in Marrakech, Morocco, and EMINES in Benguerir, Morocco. . From this has sprung many connections – from more student involvement from smaller universities to meeting local energy efficient home builders, our Moroccan partnership has grown and has made it possible for us to compete. Being able to design the home internationally but build in Morocco will help us immensely, both financially and logistically.

Finally, through another Tim-connection, we are partnering with Polytecnico di Torino, an architecture school located in Torino, Italy. Another faculty member with whom Tim has worked is now affiliated with this school as well as a local passive house consulting company, Emu Systems. We are incredibly thankful for and excited about this partnership as it rounds our team’s engineering, construction, and architecture expertise!

Through this experience, we hope to emphasize our mission and values (more on this in the next blog post!) and share what we are learning with the community. We cannot express our thanks enough for community support getting this far, and are excited to build the most innovative, comfortable, and competition-worthy house we can!


-Katie Schneider

Inter House Team Project Manager

Colorado School of Mines