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Photo of the University of Virginia's house on the National Mall at Solar Decathlon 2002. Enlarge image

The Trojan Goat incorporates recycled materials, including copper cladding reclaimed from a roof, wood panels reclaimed from shipping pallets, and paving stones reclaimed from the Rotunda at the University of Virginia.
(Credit: Chris Gunn/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon)

Who: University of Virginia
What: Trojan Goat
Private residence
Crozet, VA 22932
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Public tours: Not available

Solar Decathlon 2002

University of Virginia: Bearing Solar Gifts

Like the Trojan horse that launched the Greeks to victory, the Trojan Goat earned the University of Virginia second place in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2002. Since then, the house has gone on to inspire an affordable housing project, raise funds for a community organization, and serve as a student rental unit.

When plans to use the Trojan Goat as a faculty guest house did not materialize, the university decided to donate it to Piedmont Housing Alliance in spring 2005. The university was partnering with the local nonprofit to create low-income, sustainable houses for the Charlottesville area. Together, the academic and community entities collaborated on ecoMOD, a multi-year research and design-build effort inspired by the Solar Decathlon.

"The competition convinced us we could do more," says Paxton Marshall, the faculty engineering advisor to the 2002 team, of the ecoMOD project. "We weren't sure when we launched into the Solar Decathlon that we could pull it off at all. But as a matter of fact, we were reasonably successful." The ecoMOD project has built six living units for Piedmont Housing Alliance and Habitat for Humanity since 2004.

Piedmont Housing Alliance ultimately put the Trojan Goat out for bid to help raise additional funding. Thomas von Hemert, who had volunteered his construction skills during the building stage of the project, purchased the house in 2006. He then moved it to a property he owned in the countryside and spent two years rebuilding it and reinstalling its systems. He now offers the house for rent with priority given to architecture and engineering students at the University of Virginia.