Thursday, December 20, 2012

Inside The Empowerhouse, A Gorgeous $250,000 Passive Home

The design debuted at the government's Solar Decathalon, but instead of just being a show piece, new versions of it are being installed around Washington by Habitat for Humanity.

The Department of Energy's Solar Decathalon functions like an annual accelerator for new ideas in green building: teams from around the country compete to come up with innovative designs for sustainable housing, constructing models to display on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Then, once prizes have been awarded, the teams go home and the designs are either forgotten about, sold off, or displayed on college campuses.

Not so with the Empowerhouse, the award-winning design by a team of students from The New School in New York City and the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey. Instead, their design crossed the Anacostia River to become a two-unit home for families in the Deanwood neighborhood of D.C., installed by Habitat for Humanity and completed earlier this month. The effort was the first in the Decathalon's history when a team partnered with a nonprofit and government agencies as a part of the design process to bring a sustainable--and affordable--home to a D.C. community.

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