Department - Author 1

Mechanical Engineering Department

Degree Name - Author 1

BS in Mechanical Engineering



Primary Advisor

Kim Shollenberger


The U.S. Department of Energy announced it will be hosting an international public competition called the Solar Decathlon in Irvine, CA during October 2015 to showcase high-efficiency houses. Cal Poly students created a team – Solar Cal Poly – to participate. Three mechanical engineering students joined the team to work on the plumbing section of the competition. The team completed multiple iterations and designs of the plumbing system within the Solar Cal Poly house as the house was designed and redesigned. The construction and final design of the plumbing system will be decided by the construction crew and architecture team within Solar Cal Poly. The mechanical engineering design was selected with the intent to satisfy architecture design needs. There are cold and hot water PEX supply systems, a code-compliant sprinkler system, and black and grey ABS waste systems designed for easy hookup after transport to Irvine, CA.

In addition to architectural design needs, structural integrity, ease of assembly, safety, durability, head loss, building code, and integration with other systems were all considered in the design of the system. Of particular importance was integration with the Solar Cal Poly water systems team. This team dictated use of the grey water captured by the plumbing system, and directly coordinated supply conditions and requirements with our team. A black-grey connection valve was designed for the plumbing system to easily divert water away from water systems as necessary. Sewage pumps were designed into the system to allow flow into grey water and septic tanks above grade.

The entire system was designed for easy on-site hook up. To prevent need to travel underneath the house during competition, all hook-ups were designed along the edge of the house, to connect to pre-laid plumbing connections. Tanks were placed for easy access on-site. Plumbing supply lines and sprinkler lines were analyzed to ensure they will supply adequate pressure and volume.

The following report details the design, build, test, and report process that the plumbing team underwent to design the Solar Cal Poly plumbing system.