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Orange County Great Park, Irvine, California
October 8-18, 2015

Clemson: Clemson University

Indigo Pine, the first U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon entry from Clemson University, seeks to improve the sustainability of construction socially, economically, and environmentally. The Clemson team developed a new construction method to enable residents to construct their own homes efficiently and affordably.

Design Philosophy

The Clemson team focused on stitching together innovative building methods, Southern personality, and local products into a family home. Indigo Pine's innovative building method emphasizes front-end design to make construction faster, safer, and more intuitive by using materials that can be purchased from any supply store. By streamlining and simplifying the construction process, Indigo Pine can be built largely by the homeowners. In addition, Indigo Pine has global application. Because the house exists largely as a set of digital files, the plans can be sent anywhere in the world, constructed using local materials, adapted to the site, and influenced by local culture.



    • Indigo Pine focuses attention on its common space to promote interaction and community.
    • The innovative Sim[PLY] structural system, coupled with simple finishes and systems, enables an average person to construct the house by using only hand-powered tools,.
    • Interior cabinets, which serve as partitions, optimize space within the house by increasing storage.


    • Clemson created a unique framing system, called Sim[PLY], in which each component is individually numbered, flat-packed, and shipped to the building site to be assembled in a three-dimensional puzzle.
    • Similar to mortise-and-tenon construction, Sim[PLY] components lock together with a tab-and-slot connection secured by stainless steel zip ties.
    • The foundation is made of concrete masonry units to form a "concrete lung" that encourages air to flow through the space and serves as a regulating mass to cool or warm air passing through.
    • A unique solar hot water system heats water directly with five solar panels to reduce energy loss.


    Market Strategy

    Clemson designed Indigo Pine for a Southern family of four. The 1,000-ft2 house includes three bedrooms, a unique bathroom, and a large common space for family events. Its structural system allows for uninhibited open space, allowing the family to customize the interior layout and adapt it over time. In line with typical Southern homes, Indigo Pine features a front porch—the perfect place to spend a quiet evening with family, get together with friends, or have a glass of sweet tea on a summer afternoon.

    What's Next

    Clemson University built two houses. Indigo Pine East remained in Clemson, and Indigo Pine West competed in Solar Decathlon 2015 in Irvine, California. Indigo Pine East will remain onsite in Clemson, where students and faculty will use it as a research base, and visitors will be invited to learn about its innovation, until December 2015. Although the team does not have definitive plans for either house after this time, it hopes to continue its research initiatives well after the competition.


    Vincent Blouin

    Neither the United States, nor the Department of Energy, nor the Alliance for Sustainable Energy LLC, nor any of their contractors, subcontractors, or their employees make any warranty, express or implied, or assume any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness for any purpose of any technical resources or data attached or otherwise presented here as reference material.