Ecohabit Open House Celebrates Phenomenal Student Work on Solar Home

8/22/2013

Dozens of students, faculty, staff members and alumni attended the Open House event of Ecohabit, the net-zero solar house that Stevens will enter in a nationwide competition this fall.

The reception, held in the Babbio Atrium on Aug. 20, was packed with more than 80 people. After a brief introduction by Michael Bruno, dean of the School of Engineering and Science, and welcoming remarks from President Nariman Farvardin, guests were invited to tour the house that students built on Stevens property along the Hoboken waterfront. There, students and recent graduates who worked on the house were on hand to explain some of the “green’’ technology used in its construction.

The house will soon be broken down and shipped to Irvine, Calif., to compete in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon from Oct. 3-13, when it will face houses built by 19 universities, including four international teams. The teams will compete in 10 contests that cover a variety of categories, including affordability, engineering, architecture and market appeal.  Sixty Stevens students in the areas of engineering, computer science, design, visual arts and music worked on Ecohabit. The Solar Decathlon is a nationwide competition that occurs every two years and in 2011, Stevens’ entry, Empowerhouse, took home first place in the Affordability and Hot Water categories.

Ecohabit learns from its users to generate optimal energy efficiency. Some of its features include a duct system that is monitored for changes in temperature, a module that harnesses energy and heat from the sun during the day and releases heat into the home at night, solar shingles and an on-demand hot water system.

In his introduction remarks, Bruno mentioned how this is Stevens’ second time in the competition.

“At that time, in 2011, the students said they wanted to change the world one house at a time. We have continued that quest with this house,’’ he said.

“This is a phenomenal piece of work,’’ said Farvardin. “I have seen 81 solar houses in my day, between my time at the University of Maryland and here at Stevens. I think this is the most beautiful house of them all. It is functional and it looks great.’’

Ashley Montufar, a senior in the mechanical engineering program, said she has been working on the house since April 2012.

“It’s been a great opportunity to see all disciplines of the University working together,’’ she said.

George Johnston ’72 toured the house and marveled at how professional all the work appeared. “Even the spackling around the door frames was perfect, ‘’ he said. “It’s a very attractive and well-made home. ‘’ As he walked around a bedroom, he called the house “very compact, but functional.’’

After the competition, the house will be donated to California State University San Marco for use as a veterans center. At CSUSM, nearly 900 students identify themselves as a veteran, service member or military dependent.

For more on Ecohabit, visit www.stevens.edu/sd2013.