Berkeley’s first-ever entry at US DoE Solar Decathlon Competition

R I S ☰ is Berkeley’s first entry into the US Department of Energy Solar Decathlon, a collegiate competition of 10 contests that challenge student teams to design and build full-size, solar-powered houses.



The CEE-led group of interdisciplinary students have been working for 2 years  to build R I S ☰, an 816 sq. ft. house, that will compete against 14 universities from around the world.

It all began when the two CEE students, Brenton Krieger and Sam Durkin, heard about the Solar Decathlon competition.

“We were in our sophomore year and hadn’t had many practical experiences yet,” says Krieger, now in his fourth year in CEE.

The R I S ☰ team started by deciding to address overcrowding and environmental issues in the marine climate of Northern California.

While energy efficiency is a priority in the competition, physical space is an issue as the global population increases. The team’s solution is a modular, stackable, and rearrangeable design. From single units to higher-density complexes, this vision will kick-start a new architectural approach to the population and energy problems many cities face today.

The team’s name, R I S ☰, encompasses not only the unique, multi-story design, but also acts as an acronym for the 4 words that define the solution for their target city, Richmond, California. The team aims to create:

  • Residential solutions that are
  • Inviting,
  • Stackable, and
  • Efficient.

The team has been involved in the Richmond community, listening, teaching and learning in order to stay true to their goal of building a solution for this unique community.

From putting on a “mock Solar Decathlon” workshop at Richmond High School to meeting with the mayor’s office and community councils, the team has engaged local residents throughout the process.

The project pulls together everything they have learned in class—from design to engineering to business strategies.

“A fun part of the competition is how wide a range of knowledge each of us get, just by being exposed to other team members,” says Durkin. “I wouldn’t know as much about architecture, or the electrical systems, if it weren’t for people with this expertise being a part of the team.”

The team will be partnered with the University of Denver for the remainder of the competition. They have been generously supported by companies across many industries and from faculty across many disciplines, including CEE Professors Khalid Mosalam, William Ibbs, and Iris Tommelein. 

"We'd like to thank all who have been involved so far!" says Durkin.

The team will take the finished house to the competition in Denver, Colorado in October. Afterwards, the house will be donated to the Richmond Community Foundation to be sold to a first-time home-owning family struggling with the Bay Area housing crisis.



Keep up with the team’s progress on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and at their website!

Go R I S ☰!

Go Bears!