Green Live & Work

Is this the home of the future?

It very well could be

Recently the Department of Energy hosted the bi-annual Solar Decathalon in DC and the winning entry is the Water Shed home built by the University of Maryland pictured here. What is so cool about this competition is that the criteria to participate and ultimately win this  go far beyond solar innovation and are completely relevant to our industry today.

The reason it’s called a decathlon is because there are actually 10 areas of competition the entrants are judged on and they are: architecture, market appeal, engineering, affordability, communications, comfort, hot water, appliances,  home entertainment, and energy balance. In essence the teams selected to participate are tasked with designing a sustainable and affordable home, build and market it cost effectively,  and use and entertain in it. What makes this so exciting is it’s a glimpse in to the minds of future architects, engineers, marketing professionals, interior designers, contractors, etc and boy they don’t disappoint.

This year’s winner

WaterShed, this year’s winner incorporates some pretty amazing features as listed on it’s website:

  • Split-butterfly roof, well-suited to capture and use both sunlight and rainwater;
  • Constructed wetlands that filter stormwater and greywater (household water with limited contaminants);
  • Green roof to retain rainwater and promote efficient cooling;
  • Photovoltaic array to harvest enough solar energy to power WaterShed year-round;
  • Solar thermal array to fulfill all domestic hot water needs;
  • “Edible landscapes” that support community-based agriculture;
  • Patent-pending indoor, liquid desiccant waterfall for high-efficiency humidity control;
  • Efficient, cost-effective, durable and time-tested structural system.

The other purpose for the decathlon is public outreach and education. Many of the homes are now on tour and can be seen by the public.  Living Light, the home from the University of Tennessee will be in Nashville at the end of this month and open to the public. Additional US schools that were invited to compete were Parsons, Team Massachusetts, Florida International, Appalachian State, Team Florida, Team New Jersey, Team New York, Tidewater Virginia, University of Illinois, and the University of Hawaii.

Here are all the dedicated sites for each team’s home if you would like to see if any will be on tour in your area.  This is not only the future of building technology, it’s also the future consumer.

The competition will be held again in 2013 and the teams that will be participating have already been selected and are hard at work on their projects.



  1. Adrian Fratelle

    February 16, 2012 at 6:39 am

    Most of these concepts have been around for decades. What is great about what this univeristy has acheived is in the way they have pulled all that knowledge together. I Love the flexible furniture too. Very cool.

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