When FutureHAUS Dubai, the creative collaboration of a team of more than a hundred Virginia Tech students and faculty  members—was named the world’s best solar home, it reflected more than clever building technologies. It also showcased aging-in-place best practices.

In November, the interdisciplinary team earned a first-place victory in the 2018 Solar Decathlon Middle East, a global competition aimed to accelerate research on building sustainable, grid-connected, solar homes. In building the home, the team sought to challenge the status quo of traditional homebuilding, according to Joe Wheeler, an architecture professor who served as lead faculty of the project.

As part of that team, a College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences researcher shared insights on how human inhabitants could interact with the home’s state-of-the-art technology. Megan Dolbin-MacNab, an associate professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Science, offered her expertise on intergenerational family relationships to ensure the home can accommodate its inhabitants in all stages of life.

“FutureHAUS highlights how technology can be leveraged to support the needs of individuals, couples, and families across the lifespan,” she says. “For example, elements of FutureHAUS can help older adults stay in their homes longer, support parents and family caregivers, and facilitate healthy relationships. It’s been rewarding to partner with the FutureHAUS team to explore ways that homes can enhance the lives of their inhabitants.”