CU Boulder’s Solar Decathlon team, in partnership with Flatirons Habitat for Humanity, has broken ground on a net-zero energy home that is part of the Ponderosa Community Stabilization Project.

The mobile home park is owned by the City of Boulder and along with Flatirons Habitat aims to minimize displacement, preserve long-term affordability, replace outdated infrastructure, reduce flood risk to the community and introduce new energy-efficient affordable housing options. Both entities are working together to build more than 60 homes at Ponderosa over the next 10 years.

A groundbreaking ceremony will be held at the Ponderosa Mobile Home Park on Friday afternoon, October 28, to celebrate the start of the construction process for the net-zero energy home known as the Canopy House. This will be CU Boulder’s entry in an international competition known as the Solar Decathlon.

The team of students will be instrumental in helping to build the carriage-style Canopy House at Ponderosa, which is a diverse and tight-knit community in North Boulder. The goal is to have that home completed by March and it would then be purchased by a family living at Ponderosa.

The home itself will include a garage and 700 square feet of living space situated on top. Once finished, the community will be able to tour the home and learn more about the construction and sustainable building practices.

The Canopy House will be the second structure built as a result of the Ponderosa Community Stabilization Project. The first is a triplex that started construction earlier this year and is slated to be completed in 2023.

This is CU Boulder’s fifth time participating in the Solar Decathlon, a competition in which students from across the globe design and build a net-zero energy building in their community. These high-performance, low-carbon buildings aim to mitigate climate change and improve quality of life through greater affordability, resilience, and energy efficiency.

CU Boulder students, who have won the competition three times, will be using sustainable materials and technology to build their state-of-the-art energy efficient carriage-style home at Ponderosa. The group of local students will be one of 20 teams competing this year.

The high-performance home designed by the CU students will leverage Passive House strategies of improved insulation and airtightness with an emphasis on indoor air quality. The fully electric home will be powered by a combination of solar and green hydrogen energy to maximize its renewable energy use.

“Our mission is to educate the local community on sustainable and energy efficient building practices. We were excited to collaborate with (Flatirons Habitat) because it gives us the opportunity to leverage their relationship with the local community to communicate our mission,” said Kyle Biega, who is leading the CU Boulder team along with Jarod Concha.   

“Additionally, working with (Flatirons Habitat) gives our students valuable construction experience as they begin to enter the clean energy workforce. We are proud to be able to work with the City of Boulder and (Flatirons Habitat) to make a positive impact in our backyard,” Biega added.   

About 10 students did the design work for carriage-style home innovations and about 20 students in total are expected to help build the home. The team consists of multidisciplinary students from the university’s programs in engineering and design.