Skip to Main Content

Indigenous Futures: Native Americans

This guide was originally created for the use of instructors and students in the reACT Decolonizing Education Experiential Learning Program funded by the 2022-2023 TLTC Curriculum Grants. Specifically: ARCH460; ARCH478; ARCH601; ARCH678; CHBE473; ENCH648


Team Maryland has identified complementary western and Native American ecological approaches (Gordon 1993, Vogt et al. 2010). First, we are committed to a long-term perspective that examines issues at a scale relevant to the functioning of the various ecosystems that we inhabit. This is similar to the Seventh Generation Principle; we imagine the impact our sustainable technologies will have on future generations and on the sustainability of these ecosystems, and are not motivated by the output of products or the acquisition of profit. Second, like IKS we recognize Mother Earth as a living, breathing being. Through reACT, we have attended to how the air (Mother Earth’s breath) moves through the house through our unique heating ventilation and cooling system (HVAC) system optimizing thermal efficiency. We have brought the Earth into the house by incorporating portable living green walls and outdoor living spaces. Our commitment to water protection is evident in our water systems design, where each drop of water is accounted for and reused or recycled. While we recognize that our personal value systems shape ecosystem structure and function in various ways that can constrain, promote, or reduce sustainability, the adaptive technologies developed through reACT have been designed to improve our connection to local ecosystems. reACT is in harmony with IKS which recognizes that we as humans are intimately linked to all existence in an intricately designed web. -- Source: reACT Native American Client Research Report


Client Relations & Tribal Affairs Sub-team. (2017) reACT Native American Client Research Report. Digital Library of the University of Maryland (DRUM).

Stoltz, A., et al. (2021) Decolonization and Transformation of Higher Education for Sustainability: Integrating Indigenous Knowledge into Policy,  Teaching, Research, and Practice. Journal of Comparative & International Higher Education13(Summer), 134–156. 

Stoltz, A., et al. (2022) Tribal Collaborations and Indigenous  Representation in Higher Education:  Challenges, successes, and suggestions for attaining the SDGs. In: Mbah, M.F., Leal Filho, W., Ajaps, S. (eds) Indigenous Methodologies, Research and Practices for Sustainable Development. World Sustainability Series. Springer, Cham.

VanderGoot, J., et al. (2021) Biomimetic Design in a Cross-Disciplinary Classroom. ACSA/EAAE Teachers Conference: Curriculum for Climate Agency: Design (in)Action.

Bishop, Z. and Matt Lagomarsino (2021) Living Systems and Waste of reACT: Learning Module. Digital Library of the University of Maryland (DRUM).

Haslam, M. (2021). Rythms of Nature Inspire Pilot Design Studio. UMD School of Architecture, Planning & Preservation Newsletter.

Adapting Assateague: Design for Resilient Buildings and Landscapes at Assategue State Park. ARCH601 Studio report. Adapting Assateague Studio is an architectural studio concentration on advanced topical inquiry. This course was run in partnership with the Partnership for Action Learning in Sustainability (PALS) program. The Studio was tasked to work directly with the Department of Natural Resources to design a new Ranger Station and create a Resiliency Masterplan for the island.

Stoltz, A; Cossard, P; Owoeye, O; Kerlin, L (2018). reACT: resilient Adaptive Climate Technology: preprint.  Digital Library of the University of Maryland (DRUM).

Stoltz, A; Cossard, P. (2018). reACT: resilient Adaptive Climate Technology: Audio Visual Presentation.  Digital Library of the University of Maryland (DRUM).

University of Maryland (College Park, Md.). School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, and U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon (2011 : Washington, D.C.). 2012. Inspired Innovation  Watershed at the University of Maryland: U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011, West Potomac Park, Washington, Dc, September 23 - October 2, 2011. College Park, MD: Office of the Dean, School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, University of Maryland. 

University of Maryland at College Park, and U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon (3rd : 2007). 2010. Leafhouse at the University of Maryland. College Park: University of Maryland, School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. 

Courtney, Chris (2018). From the Solar Decathlon to Sustainable Communities. Thesis, University of Maryland (College Park, Md.). Digital Library of the University of Maryland (DRUM). This thesis explores the potential to use the fundamental elements of UMD’s decathlon submission, and transform it into scalable, modular, fully customizable, and sustainable houses for the Native Tribes, including Apache reservation in Bylas, Arizona. The thesis summarizes the various prototypes and possible arrangements of a solar home, but first lays out significant precedent analysis for sustainable solar communities to form a strong baseline of rich context. The history and culture of the resilient nomadic Apache tribe is then analyzed in order to better understand what is and is not appropriate design-wise for this culture. It explores options, a decision-matrix using a smartphone application, and layouts using the courtyard, compact and cluster arrangements. It concludes with sample houses and building designs that would be in the community.

Uy, Alan (2017) Systems Engineering-Based Model Development: Application to Predictive Simulation of a Net-zero Home. UMD School of Engineering. Masters Thesis. Digital Library of the University of Maryland (DRUM). Building design has grown increasingly sophisticated throughout the decades. In recent years, assessments of building performance and sustainability have grown in popularity. The LEED rating system utilizes standards made by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) for areas in thermal comfort, air quality, energy building performance, and heat, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) operation. Energy building performance has an overarching role in this rating as the other three standards play into the overall loads associated with any building. Submittal of energy performance building reports for construction design and green building rating systems is becoming more common as building performance assessment software becomes more widely available. The University of Maryland's reACT team is a constructed net-zero solar-powered house that competed in the 2017 Solar Decathlon. To aid in the design process, projected building performance assessment was used to build a model-based home automation. A physically based model of the house was built from scratch to serve as a real-time simulation of virtual versions of reACT located in College Park, MD and Denver, CO. The overall system design can be described as a general set of inputs, dynamic simulation, and output of overall profiles. Inputs for the system include geometric design of the house, specified materials, schedules, daily weather data, and solar irradiance. Dynamic simulation refers to a simultaneous integration of both independent and dependent fluctuating loads upon the time of day regarding both heat and power balances. Finally, outputs showcase heat and power profiles throughout a day. The bulk of analysis of inputs and simulation is rooted in fundamental calculations.

reACT. Jury Narratives

  • Engineering. Engineering design and implementation, including Team approach to employing multidisciplinary collaboration and use the energy modeling and analysis to guide design decisions; Design performance of systems and structures, occupant comfort, proportional size for annual performance targets; Energy Efficiency. Long-term issues such as longevity, lifecycle costs, maintenance, and owner operation are addressed as well as how the building envelope design and materials manage potential issues from moisture, condensation, and mold. Includes complete engineering drawings and specifications and the Energy Modelling report.
  • Architecture. Architectural Concept and Design Approach including, overall clear concept, idea or ideas to guide the development of the whole design process, design solution and competition prototype house demonstrate overall coherence among disciplines and systems of the home, relation of the home to its target site, unique issues and challenges in its design and execution, sense of inspiration and delight. As well as, Architectural Implementation and Innovation including, use of architectural elements (scale and proportion, indoor/outdoor connections, composition), holistic and integrated design (space, structure, and building envelope) natural and electric lighting integration, material selection, well-conceived details, architectural implementation, energy-efficiency concerns, energy production technology, performance considerations, transportation and pre-fabrication strategies and details.
  • Communications. Describes in-depth the efforts to educate, inform, and interest the public, including the communications strategy; success of outreach and education message; description of digital communications. The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2017 teams must develop and implement communications strategies to engage their local communities, provide free tours to visitors during the event in Denver, and make an impact across the world through their digital presence and media outreach.
  • Innovations. This report describes the team’s approach to innovation, from design to execution. It includes details on how and what research was conducted and how it informed decisions on design solutions. It discusses how the team integrated innovative sustainable strategies, products, and solutions, as well as how the house maximizes sustainability through the use of passive solar strategies, smart materials selection, and/or local considerations in the design. It explains how the innovations relate to and improve the lives of the selected target market. The environmental, social, and commercial benefits are described. Lastly, it answers the questions: Are the innovations durable relative to the life cycle of the house? Will the innovations improve or maintain occupant safety?
  • Water. In Solar Decathlon 2017 smart water solutions has been recognized as its own contest for the first time. This new contest is important not only because water is a precious resource, but also because water and energy are inextricably linked—it takes water to make the energy we use, and it takes energy to treat and deliver the clean water we require. This conservation section of this report compares reACT’s expected use to that of a standard code-compliant house how water conservation strategies are integrated into its design elements, and how it encourages the homeowner to use less water. This report also covers the topics of reclamation and reuse and how react manages to achieve them, including how health and safety is considered. Lastly, reACT’s landscaping and irrigation design is explained and how it deals with climate, hardscaping, plant selection, and how it achieves energy and efficiency in water use.

reACT. (2017) Construction Drawings & Specs