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BYU Team Wins Regional ASCE Sustainable Solutions Competition

Undergraduate students design a winning tiny home development approach for transitional housing to help address homelessness.

Homelessness and an inadequate supply of low income housing stocks are a growing challenge in the US and globally. This year's American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Sustainable Solutions Competition "challenges students to develop a stronger understanding of sustainability and learn to incorporate sustainable solutions into everyday problems."

A team from BYU’s student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) won the Sustainable Solutions Competition at the Intermountain Southwest Student Symposium. The symposium was held April 13–16, 2022, in Las Vegas, and 12 student chapters participated.

The competition invited teams to design a tiny house community that was judged on sustainability (according to the Envision framework), a design proposal, and an interview. The team's approach was to use Monolithic domes as sustainable, strong, and economical tiny homes, with additional domes as a shared community center for vocational training, recreational use, and other social programs. Among other features, the proposed development included multiple innovative elements:

  • solar pavers to generate over 50% of the community's electricity
  • pervious roads and sidewalk areas to help recharge the water table and decrease stormwater
  • shared space transit areas to encourage active transportation (e.g. walking and cycling) with easy access to public transportation and ride sharing
  • bio retention cells (rain gardens) to filter city run-off, reduce excess stormwater, and provide natural habitats
  • xeriscaping with native plants compatible with local environments, requiring reduced water consumption
  • rain capture to limit runoff and decrease potable water consumption

Pictured left to right, students Jacob Neil, Olivia Neeley, and Spencer Burgon

Pictured left to right, students Jacob Neil, Olivia Neeley, and Spencer Burgon presented the team’s solution. Students not pictured, including Emily Dicataldo, Sarah Fox, and Andy Rodriguez contributed to the design prior to the event. Professor Andrew South, one of the team coaches shared this insight; "competitions like these provide an excellent opportunity for students to combine state-of-practice training in real-world applications. This is an excellent example of experiential learning activities, which we value highly at BYU."

The BYU team advances to the national finals in June hosted at Louisiana Tech University.

See this article on the Sustainability Lab Website: