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Photo of Pittsburgh Synergy's solar house in its permanent location on Carnegie Mellon's campus. Enlarge image

The Pittsburgh Synergy solar house is located near Margaret Morrison Carnegie Hall on Carnegie Mellon's campus.
(Courtesy of Stephen Lee/Carnegie Mellon University)

Who: Pittsburgh Synergy
What: Solar house
Remaking Cities Institute
5045 Margaret Morrison St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
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Public tours: Not available

Solar Decathlon 2005

Pittsburgh Synergy: Working for the Greater Good

Carnegie Mellon partnered with the University of Pittsburgh and The Art Institute of Pittsburgh for the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2005. After the competition, the house was rebuilt on Carnegie Mellon's campus for use as office space. It was also grid-tied to feed excess electricity to a nearby dormitory.

The house was first used by the School of Architecture's Remaking Cities Institute, whose mission is to encourage sustainable, well-designed communities in the Pittsburgh area and beyond. Its past projects include Remaking Pittsburgh, Urbanism at Carnegie Mellon, and the Mayors' Institute on City Design. The association allowed the house to further contribute to the evolution of sustainable design.

Today, the house is the home of BXA Intercollege Degree Programs, which includes the Bachelor of Computer Science and Arts, Humanities and Arts, and Bachelor of Science and Arts programs.

The solar-powered house was not reconstructed for seven months after the competition because of financial restrictions. A grant from the Ford Motor Co. ultimately provided the funding needed to rebuild. In May 2006, construction began on a permanent foundation. The batteries were removed, and a Sunny Boy 3300 replaced the original inverter. During the spring 2013 semester, the Urban Design/Build Studio replaced the south wall with an experimental project titled "Southern Exposure." Otherwise, the house remains much like it was on the National Mall.