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

Sacramento State: California State University, Sacramento

The California State University, Sacramento, team called its first U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon project Reflect Home because the house is intended to reflect those who live within it. The Reflect Home is a model of sustainable—yet stylish and comfortable—living. It allows the homeowner to generate and use power in a way that leaves a smaller footprint on the planet without sacrificing the comforts and conveniences of a modern, affordable home.

Design Philosophy

The Reflect Home's design is focused on the resident, with the intention of making the house as functional, livable, and comfortable as possible. The Sacramento State team believes net-zero design will achieve widespread application only when homebuyers realize that sustainability can be achieved without sacrificing accommodations. Inspiration for the exterior is drawn from Sacramento's Craftsman bungalows and small mid-century ranch homes.

The interior includes an open and modern common space with an emphasis on indoor-outdoor living. The continuous wall and ceiling materials break down the barrier between indoors and out, while the outdoor living area offers a large space for living and entertaining. Balancing this sense of openness is a recognizably domestic private sphere that respects traditional patterns of family life. The second bedroom features a sliding wall. When opened, it can be used as an office or playroom. The primary bedroom features a private outdoor room connected by a folding exterior wall.



    • A rain-collecting water feature on the back patio cascades rainwater from the roof to produce soothing sounds that bring life and motion to the backyard.
    • A living wall is functional as a vertical garden, offers protection from UV rays, and acts as a cooling mechanism while serving as living art.


    • An air-to-water heat pump conditions the inside space in a process that is 80% more efficient than a typical heating and cooling system and 25 times quieter than a traditional air-conditioning unit.
    • Advanced framing techniques reduce the number of studs required and increase the walls' aggregate R-value while maintaining structural integrity.
    • High-density blown insulation within the wall cavities further increases the shell's thermal resistance.
    • Sealing of the top plates, sills, and penetrations through the super structure eliminates uncontrolled air transfer in and out of the structure envelope.


    Market Strategy

    Reflect Home's target client is a millennial family. A maturing generation, millennials are likely buying a home first time and want a home that supports their sustainable lifestyle while comfortably supporting their families. In Sacramento, the areas that attract young families most are smaller, older homes in established neighborhoods.

    What's Next

    After Solar Decathlon 2015, the Reflect Home will return to campus in conjunction with Sacramento State's Sustainable Technology Optimization Research Center. There, it will serve as a working lab for students to learn about home construction and net-zero design. In addition, tours will show community members improvements they can make in their own homes and inspire ideas for better, more cost-effective, and innovative homes.


    Mikael Anderson

    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.