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

Team NY Alfred: State University of New York at Alfred College of Technology and Alfred University

Alf House, State University of New York at Alfred College of Technology and Alfred University's first U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon entry, was inspired by the rolling hills, deep valleys, and picturesque streams of Allegany County, New York. Alf House is designed to withstand the harsh winters of upstate New York and the stinginess of its sunshine.

Design Philosophy

Alf House was designed for a small family in the Southern Tier of New York State with three goals in mind: efficiency, affordability, and simplicity. It is designed to be decoupled from a hectic, modern-day lifestyle, offering the owners a taste of quiet solitude and outdoor indulgences. Alf House intends to bring people together in a large, inviting, multipurpose space with scenic views. The central gathering space allows for ideal connectivity and interaction.



    • Structural insulated panels in the walls and roof reduce the cost and labor associated with installation of framed walls, provide a high R-value, and act as a structural member of the house.
    • An energy recovery ventilator recycles hot air inside the house to produce cold air, and an air-conditioning unit acts as a high-performance chiller cooling the air-handling unit.
    • An open floor plan—including a central gathering space made up of the living, kitchen, and dining areas—enhances the openness of the house while keeping the footprint under 1,000 ft2.
    • A NanaWall system increases lighting and provides an egress to the porch.


    • The 11.5-kW, 46-panel solar photovoltaic system is designed with a low pitch that can be adjusted to fit different climates.
    • The evacuated-tube collectors of the solar hot water system produce 13,500 Btuh of power and heat up 80 gallons of water in less than an hour during the day using a "dry" heat transfer method.
    • An air handling unit and energy recovery ventilator recycle thermal energy inside the house and return it as clean cool air.
    • A three-section hydronic radiant heat flooring system keeps the house warm and cozy for the cold winter season of rural New York.


    Market Strategy

    Alf House is a unique space for a small family living in the hills, valleys, and woods of Allegany County. Allegany is a relatively rural, heavily wooded, and sparsely populated county in Western New York, about an hour and a half from Buffalo. A small family can fit comfortably within the house and take full advantage of nature through the large windows and a wrap-around porch.

    The target client would be a trendsetter in the community. Although the Northeast is not known for excessive sun, solar panels placed at optimal angles would maximize what is available to sustain a zero-energy home. Many local farmers are interested in renewable ventures, and Alf House would give them a highly effective model.

    What's Next

    The Alf House was sold to a family from the Los Angeles area and will be reconstructed in summer 2016 in California as a private vacation home.


    George Richardson

    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.