The Solar Decathlon is an international competition hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy that challenges 20 collegiate teams to design, build and operate solar-powered, energy-efficient homes that combine affordability, consumer appeal and design excellence houses. A Stevens team, Ecohabit, will compete in the 2013 competition. Its design and construction - which will take two years to complete - will embrace the idea of a home as an engineered system of systems with embedded intelligence at the core. The house will ultimately be assembled at the competition site in Irvine, California in October 2013.
For the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2013, Stevens Institute of Technology wants to advance sustainable building technology and practices as well as educational initiatives that will lead to their appreciation and adoption. This goal is manifest in Stevens' approach to Ecohabit. The team is addressing sustainability in all facets of its house?from form, through construction, and in the dynamics of its use. It is approaching the design of the Ecohabit House as an engineered "system of systems" with embedded intelligence at the core. It is a residential prototype no longer built by traditional methods or driven by the limitations of a template. It will evolve over time and adapt to its users and their lifestyles.
In 2011, Stevens students participated in U.S. Department of Energy 2011 Solar Decathlon and took their project beyond the competition to the Washington D.C. neighborhood of Deanwood. They teamed with The New School and Habitat for Humanity, contributing engineering expertise that enabled the house to require up to 90% less energy for heating and cooling than the average residence.
After the project was exhibited on the National Mall's West Potomac Park in Washington, D.C., the exhibition house journeyed to the Deanwood neighborhood of D.C., where it was joined with a sister structure under the auspices of Habitat for Humanity, who matched the cutting-edge residences with low-income families to provide affordable, and sustainable, homes. The Deanwood community was intimately involved with the project to ensure that the final product is not only sustainable, but a positive addition to the residents of the historic neighborhood.
The project was featured in numerous magazines and popular blogs for its unique approach to design and sustainability. Press coverage included Residential Architect, the Architects Newspaper, Metropolis Magazine, Urban Turf, Inhabitat, and the Washington Informer.
The active partnership of Stevens with The New School, Habitat for Humanity, and the Washington, D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development was unique in its combination of challenging design principles and strong social context.