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USC’s Solar Decathlon home comes together on campus

Allison Engelby Allison Engel
fluxHome team members are getting practical construction experience.
Photo: fluxHome team members are getting practical construction experience.

Raise high the roofbeams, carpenters! The interdisciplinary project to build a net-zero, affordable and innovative home is taking shape on the South Lawn behind Watt Hall. USC’s entry into the Solar Decathlon competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy is called fluxHome, which refers to its modules that can be rearranged, stacked and added on as family units change.

This summer, the Solar Decathlon team is getting hands-on experience as its members construct the home for the first time and prepare for it to be dismantled and rebuilt in October at the competition site at Great Park in Orange County, Calif. USC is one of only 20 university teams worldwide selected to join the biennial event.

In recent days, team members have become certified to drive forklifts and certified to install cross-linked polyethylene piping for the plumbing system.

fluxHome is being built on the South Lawn, near Exposition Boulevard.

fluxHome is being built on the South Lawn, near Exposition Boulevard.

In an embedded video, three members of the team, two from the USC School of Architecture and one from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, give an overview of the project and explain why the 10 facets of the decathlon require collaboration from several schools at USC. In addition to architecture and engineering, students from the USC Rossier School of Education, the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, the USC Marshall School of Business and the USC School of Cinematic Arts are involved with the competition. It is, as USC Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Elizabeth Garrett said at the project kickoff on April 12, “perhaps the most interdisciplinary project on campus this year.”

Also featured in the video are the project’s faculty co-directors Alice Kimm and Gary Paige of the School of Architecture, who have devoted an extensive amount of time the past year and a half shepherding fluxHome from studio concepts to lumber and steel.

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