2022 Final Event Winner – University of Utah

Presenting Team Members:

Samantha Eddy – Undergraduate Majoring in Architectural Studies

Xinyan Liu – PhD Student in Civil and Environmental Engineering

Xinyang Rui – PhD Student in Electrical and Computer Engineering

Xiang Huo – PhD Student in Electrical and Computer Engineering

School: The University of Utah

Challenge: Resilience for All in the Wake of Disaster

Problem Definition: Develop holistic solutions to improve the resilience of the built environment, making equity a central focus of the proposed solution by strengthening the ability of communities—especially those that are underserved, marginalized and vulnerable—to adapt, persist, and recover in the event of natural or manmade disruptive events.

Project Title: Advancing Resilient Communities in Remote Areas

Solution: Navajo Nation has a non-Puebloan (non-village based), sparsely spread-out land use pattern. This poses an unusual challenge to the provision of basic infrastructures such as electricity, clean water, and broadband connection, for they rely on a degree of density to be optimal. It is also a food desert with nutritional options limited to corn, beans, and canned food. During natural disasters, such as drought and snowstorms, most residents would suffer from indoor environmental issues, communication interruptions, and food shortages. Given these challenges, the cultural survival of the Diné needs a highly tailored and holistic solution. To this end, this project aims at building a resilient and self-sustained living environment for the Navajo Nation.

For this project, we take Dennehotso, a Navajo chapter, as a pilot site to illustrate the design of the project. Dennehotso is vulnerable to natural disasters due to its remote location and economic depression. We propose to develop a design solution that incorporates modularized components to facilitate flexible deployment under different scenarios. Specific modules include (1) building retrofit solutions for current housing stock; (2) solar-battery-based distributed microgrid solution for electricity supply; (3) broadband connection solutions for communications; (4) agriculture solutions for food resources; and (5) human capacity building programs for self-sustainment. Serving as the template project of a sparsely spread-out community, this project expects to improve life quality by providing reliable electricity and internet connectivity, improved air quality and indoor comfort, and uninterrupted food supply, especially during natural and manmade disasters.