Solar Decathlon and Sustainable Reconstruction in Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador

From left to right: Briana Salmon, Joan Gibbons, Alani Aguerre, and Brenton Krieger (Michelle Margolies not pictured)

In just over a month, five of our Solar Decathlon team members will be taking their building and design skills to Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador. Their mission: rebuilding communities that were devastated by the magnitude-7.8 earthquake that struck the Pacific coast in April. Joan Gibbons, Brenton Krieger, Michelle Margolies, Alani Aguerre, and Briana Salmon will work with Ecuadorian professionals in architecture, carpentry, and materials farming as well as local university students to rebuild homes in the coastal community.

When the earthquake hit Ecuador, hundreds of building collapsed, taking human lives and the livelihoods of local communities with them. The challenge for coastal Bahia de Caraquez soon became how to heal their people and rebuild their homes and communities. From the need to rebuild came Bahia Beach Construction, a startup committed to rebuilding and focused on sustainability. Bahia Beach Construction has been able to tap into a largely underused resource in Ecuador — Guadua bamboo. With bamboo farms close to the most affected regions and its durable strength, bamboo seems like to be the leading material for environmentally friendly building. It also is known for its ability to regulate humidity and temperature, which is incredibly important for a country named for its proximity to the Equator.

Our Solar Decathlon team members bring their knowledge of and passion for sustainable design and building to Ecuador, and in return they will be able to hone their knowledge and skills in construction. It is one thing to design a home and another to actually build one, and in Ecuador our team members will be able to see firsthand the transition from design to finished product!

The entire Berkeley Solar Decathlon team is excited to see our teammates and friends putting their knowledge to use in rebuilding Bahia de Caraquez. And, we cannot wait for them to bring their new skills back to the construction of our very own sustainable home!

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