Building a Sustainable Future: IIT Bombay’s Team SHUNYA Wins Solar Decathlon

Team SHUNYA, comprising a dedicated group of students from IIT Bombay (who are also sustainability enthusiasts), was placed first at the prestigious US Solar Decathlon Design Challenge 2024. The team took the premier spot in the Multifamily Building Division for their innovative Project Samsara. This achievement marks Team SHUNYA’s third consecutive win at the prestigious international competition, held from April 19-21, 2024, at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, Colorado.

Team SHUNYA, initiated 12 years ago by Prof. Rangan Banerjee (now the Director of IIT Delhi), embodies a commitment to promoting sustainable housing in an urbanizing nation. Their latest project, Samsara, embodies this vision, aiming to enhance health and safety within slum rehabilitation housing (SRH) in Mumbai, India. The project incorporates innovative void strategies, daylight autonomy, ventilation, and energy performance, coupled with a membrane-based heat pump system and a smart demand management system, resulting in a 60% increase in habitable area and a 35% improvement in daylight autonomy.

The team that represented IIT Bombay in Colorado consisted of five passionate students:

–  Mr. Prabhat Sharma (Team Lead, MSc PhD, 5th year, DESE)
–  Mr. Ali Khan (Project Engineer, M.Tech., 2nd year, CUSE)
–  Mr. Varun Phadke (Junior Design Architect, M.Tech., 1st year, CUSE)
–  Ms. Simran Chaudhary (Junior Design Architect, M.Tech., 1st year, CUSE)
–  Ms. Zenab Kagzi (Junior Design Engineer, M.Tech., 1st year, ESED)

They were guided by Prof. Gurubalan Annadurai, whose expertise and mentorship were crucial to their success.

“Participating in the US Solar Decathlon and representing India has been an incredible privilege,” expressed the team. “We are deeply grateful to the US Solar Decathlon and IIT Bombay for providing the platform and support to realize our dreams and showcase India’s potential.”

Project Samsara is a testament to the team’s dedication and innovative thinking. The retrofit proposal not only increased the building’s habitable space but also made it Net Positive Energy, IGBC Net Zero Water, and Net Positive Carbon over its lifespan, all without displacing any tenants. These achievements were made possible through architectural interventions, new HVAC systems, and solar energy solutions for community kitchens, addressing both environmental sustainability and community well-being.

The journey to this victory was filled with challenges, from site constraints and structural limitations to improving community health and planning logistics for construction. Yet, through collaboration and determination, the team overcame each obstacle, demonstrating resilience and ingenuity.

A total of 40 teams representing 37 collegiate institutions participated in the Solar Decathlon Design Challenge 2024. Teams competed in one of four divisions:

–  Single-Family Housing
–  Attached Housing
–  Multifamily Building
–  Education Building

Team SHUNYA’s victory in the Multifamily Building Division, against strong competition from The University of Arizona and the University of Missouri, marks a significant achievement in the realm of sustainable design in multifamily housing.

The team gratefully acknowledged the unwavering support and guidance of their esteemed faculty advisors, alums, and mentors, who played a pivotal role in their success. “Every success we celebrate is built upon a foundation of challenges, sleepless nights, and hard work,” the team reflected.

Team SHUNYA’s triumph at the Solar Decathlon is not just a win for IIT Bombay but a beacon of hope for sustainable development and innovative housing solutions in India and beyond.

In celebrating Team SHUNYA’s remarkable victory, we not only commend their dedication and ingenuity but also recognize the nurturing environment fostered by IIT Bombay. With its unwavering support and commitment to excellence, IIT Bombay continues to empower its students to push the boundaries of innovation and sustainability, leaving an indelible mark on the global stage. As Team SHUNYA’s triumph demonstrates, when passion meets opportunity, the possibilities are limitless, echoing the ethos of IIT Bombay’s mission to inspire, innovate, and lead.

Once again, congratulations, Team SHUNYA!


For more details, check out team Shunya’s Website here.

Team Shunya’s Social Media Links: Facebook / Instagram / LinkedIn