Chameleon House

2013 House

The Chameleon House is the Missouri S&T entry into the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2013. The Chameleon House can adapt to its environment and features several innovative aspects that can transform to suit the needs of the occupant. A blend of a modular living space, advanced automation system and highly engineered photovoltaic and solar thermal systems allow for a level of control over the living space unprecedented in any of our previous homes.

For the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2013 the team is focused on making improvements based on experience gained during past Solar Decathlons. The team has chosen to invest more time and energy in the design phase to alleviate stressful conditions during construction. The team also developed a thorough competition strategy for the Chameleon House that showcases the strengths of the team while illustrating marked improvement in areas where the team has struggled in the past.

Developing a unified and overarching architectural concept is crucial to being successful in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2013. The concept, Engineering and Adaptable Environment, was established in conjunction with the name: Chameleon House. The team has embraced this concept in the architectural design of the home by utilizing an open floor plan with a partition wall to allow the space to adapt to the needs of the resident. The concept is furthered by features such as the grid-storage system, transforming table and reconfigurable kitchen cabinets.

Aesthetically, the house is clean and contemporary. Unobtrusive colors and modern finishes were chosen so as not to encumber the reconfigurability of the home. The interior ambiance adapts with the mood of the occupant. As part of the Architectural design, some elements of the building system are exposed in order to make the occupant feel truly in control of the space.

Time Lapse of the Process

Engineered Systems

The Engineered Systems have been designed with the Architectural concept in mind. New technologies have been utilized to allow for extreme levels of control and personalization of the space by the occupants. Some of the conventional HVAC systems have been replaced by innovative new designs. Use of time honored passive strategies such as overhangs, thermal mass, ventilation via operable windows and heat recovery will be maximized. By leveraging the automation system, we will achieve exceptional levels of efficiency while still allowing the occupants to open windows and adjust the thermostat. The home automation system ties all of the engineered systems together and will be the heart of the Chameleon house.

Misson And Goals


The Missouri S&T team is the only team worldwide to be accepted into five of the six U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon Competitions. The team has drawn on this experience and has set of goal of breaking the previous best overall ranking of 7th (2007) in a Solar Decathlon. Time has been dedicated to improving areas of weakness while areas of strength have been highlighted and enhanced.

The Chameleon House must be successful at the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2013. However, upon returning to Rolla the house will serve the greater purpose of raising the profile of solar energy especially in the state of Missouri. Arguably the houses the team builds serve their most important function after they compete in the Solar Decathlon and return to Rolla. House tours and research opportunities at the Solar Village form the cornerstone of the team’s goals of bettering the University, the community and the environment.

Virtual Walkthrough