Our Goal

Crowder College and Drury University have partnered to design, engineer, market, and construct a solar powered and storm resistant home for the 2015 Solar Decathlon competition. While all teams will be building an environmentally conservative solar powered home, our team has self-imposed the additional challenge of making our home tornado resilient.

As our team is located in Missouri, a state that experiences an average of 27 tornadoes per year (National Weather Service), we’ve seen first-hand the devastation a storm can create.

Crowder and Drury have chosen to appeal to the homebuyer looking to not only minimize their footprint while living in style, but who seeks also to protect themselves from the violent storms that sometimes strike without warning. Check out Our Motivation to see what’s got us so fired up.


The idea for ShelteR3 is based on three Rs: respond, recover, and resist. It’s the guiding philosophy for our project, and it’s what will make our home effective.



In the wake of a storm like the one that destroyed Joplin there is pure chaos. There are no roofs, no homes, no water, and no power. It is difficult to begin organizing and to know what to start fixing first.  ShelteR3 would be perfect in those situations, as it is solar powered and is designed to be shipped on a semi and set up quickly, creating a  basic building from which first response efforts may be organized. If the city’s infrastructure has been damaged so that there is no power, that would not affect ShelteR3, as it gets all the power it needs from the sun.

  • The dimensions of the Shelter home enable the two modular elements to be shipped to the scene of a disaster pre-built, and set up very quickly.
  • Will require minimal assembly once at destination.
  • Once the home has been assembled at a disaster site, the home will be able to fully function without connecting to a power grid.
  • May function as a disaster response command center if necessary


The recovery process can feel slow, but not with ShelteR3. The original two units can at any time be separated to make room for additional living space that can be dropped in just as easily as the first two. What starts out as emergency shelter easily becomes a home.

  • Plantings are both edible and aesthetic.
  • Offers a beautiful, modern design that provides an enjoyable and invigorating living space, while functioning as a storm shelter and producer of energy.


For us, it’s not only about helping, it’s also about preventing. ShelteRis designed to withstand high winds and the impact of projectiles created by tornadoes. Cladding materials, and protective architectural elements protect vulnerable areas.

  • The shelter home will be constructed using a layering technique. This method of construction will help protect the home from flying objects during a tornado.
  • The exterior of the home has been engineered to prevent features from becoming detached during a tornado. This prevents the shelter home from becoming a hazard to other homes, and reduces impact on the debris field after the storm.
  • The perforated metal doors for the house allow the homeowner to open up the interior spaces of the home when desired and to protect these spaces from tornadic events when needed. The perforation in the doors affords the homeowner the opportunity to control natural light levels inside the home at all times.
  • The Shelter home offers protected spaces that create a feeling of safety, as well as serve to highlight the generous proportions of the main living space.


  1 comment for “Our Goal

  1. Michael Jernigan
    March 13, 2015 at 3:59 pm

    I think this is a fabulous idea for your entry in the Solar Decathlon! Such a structure would certainly beat the trailers that FEMA moved in after the Joplin tornado. The idea that they can be expanded to become a permanent home is wonderful. I’ll be following the project here at Crowder–exciting days ahead!

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