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Brighton Uni chosen for sustainable house-build competition

The institution will compete in Solar Decathlon Europe, a global contest to design and build a house using new tech and reclaimed materials

Posted by Julian Owen | March 10, 2018 | Sustainability

Brighton is the only UK university to be shortlisted in the U.S. Department of Energy’s biennial ‘Solar Decathlon Europe’ contest, which challenges teams of students and staff to design and build a high-tech sustainable house. 

Dr Ruoyu Jin, who submitted the University’s bid, said: “The project will be a completely new concept in sustainable design and construction through prefabrication, a living house incorporating state-of-the-art technologies where the roof and walls will nourish as well as protect. It will incorporate the concepts of energy efficiency, indoor wellbeing, and the circular economy.” 

The design, he said, could ultimately help address the global need for low-cost housing built with sustainable and recycled materials. 

The University’s design uses recycled materials, including old shipping containers, an organic roof that encourages biodiversity targeted at bees and insect life, and living walls which provide food. Technologies to treat wastewater and monitor air quality will also be designed in.

The house will be built at the University, disassembled for shipping to next year’s contest site near Budapest, Hungary, and later returned to Brighton.

The University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Debra Humphris, said: “This is a tremendous achievement for everyone involved and demonstrates the quality of research and innovation being conducted here. It also complements the University’s ethos of ensuring that sustainability is embedded in everything we do.” 

The Brighton team, BrightNest, will be competing against 14 universities from across Europe, as well as one from the USA and one from Asia.

Students and staff from the Greater Brighton Metropolitan College will be volunteering their skills for the house build.

Professor Marina Novelli, Academic Lead for Brighton Responsible Futures, has hailed the project as an example of Brighton’s leadership in this area. 

An appeal has been launched, and any individuals or organisations wishing to contribute - either financially or by donating materials or other support - should contact the University’s Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement department by emailing 

The team now needs to promote the project and raise the estimated £100,000 still required for the construction and the shipping of the house. 

For more information, go to the project website.


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