Empowerhouse Decathlon Entry Being Designed For A Real Community


First images of the Parsons The New School Design, courtesy Parsons

When the show is over, this Solar Decathlon entry will be reassembled into a home.

We're big fans of the Solar Decathlon, although I often wonder if these little gems have much applicability to real world solutions. That is why Parsons the New School of Design's upcoming entry in the 2011 competition is so interesting: they are going beyond the Washington Mall and building their entry so that it can be used as real housing after the show, in the Deanwood neighbourhood of Washington.
Working with Habitat for Humanity

The full team is Parsons The New School for Design, Milano The New School for Management and Urban Policy, and Stevens Institute of Technology working in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Washington, D.C., and the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). Two decathlon buildings will be joined together to make a single family house, designed to Passive House principles and to be net zero, producing as much energy as it needs. The Parsons' dean is effusive in a press release:

Empowerhouse will create a new design standard for sustainable housing. It's a standard that will be replicable around the world. The innovative approach we've chosen reflects our commitment to interdisciplinary collaboration, civic engagement, and design innovation.

But the key element is the fact that the unit won't just be an expensive little test bed but will be put to use and become part of the community. In fact, the families that occupy the house will help build it:

Habitat will select the families who will occupy the home this fall, and in the spring they will join students from Parsons, The New School, and Stevens, local residents and other volunteers to construct the home. The team also is working with a local community garden to provide plantings for a roof garden and vegetable window boxes; and hopes to collaborate with a local school to create a system of modular furnishings for the home.

During the Solar Decathlon Europe I gushed over the University of Florida's simple design and thought the Luminhaus was over-teched; I preferred a design that I thought had real-world application. Guess which one won. Here, Parsons The New School's team is going one step further and actually building it for the real world. That is a bigger challenge than the Decathlon. It should be interesting to watch.

More on the Solar Decathlon:
Gorgeous Woodsy Finnish Entry in Solar Decathlon Wins First Prize For Architecture
University of Florida's Entry At Solar Decathlon Mixes Old Ideas, New Technology
Digital Design Goes Solar With FabLab at Solar Decathlon Europe
Lumenhaus From Virginia Tech Wins Solar Decathlon Europe

More on Passivhaus or Passive House:

Forget Energy Star and LEED, Green Building is Passivhaus
A Passiv Haus in Urbana, Illinois
Bamboo Screens Shade Stunning French Passivhaus

Tags: Concepts & Prototypes | Designers | Energy Efficiency