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Photo of the Rhode Island School of Design solar-powered house with Portsmouth Abbey's wind turbine in the background. Enlarge image

The solar-powered faculty residence and 660-kW wind turbine are two of Portsmouth Abbey's remarkable on-campus sustainability initiatives.
(Courtesy of Portsmouth Abbey School)

Who: Rhode Island School of Design
What: Solar house
Portsmouth Abbey School
285 Cory's Lane
Portsmouth, RI 02871
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Public tours: Not available

Solar Decathlon 2005

Rhode Island School of Design: Finding the Right Partner

The solar-powered house built by Rhode Island School of Design for the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2005 is now on the campus of a Catholic Benedictine high school called Portsmouth Abbey. Located by the shore of Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island, the house serves as a faculty residence.

Like many teams, the Rhode Island School of Design team relied on sponsor contributions as it designed its house. Viessmann, the sponsor that provided solar hot water panels, also helped the university find an end user for the house.

Viessmann previously worked with Portsmouth Abbey on the installation of a 660-kW wind turbine on the 500-acre campus. When the Rhode Island School of Design team learned about Portsmouth's effort to achieve a higher level of sustainability, it knew the school would make a perfect partner.

The house moved from a storage site at the Quanset Air Force base to Portsmouth's campus in summer 2008. Rhode Island School of Design's student team leader then worked with a crew to reconstruct it. To provide sufficient living space, the school doubled the house's square footage with the addition of a basement. On Oct. 21, Portsmouth celebrated its newest alternative energy project with a dedication ceremony and blessing.

"It's been really great to see Portsmouth put it back together and really make it a home," says Jonathan Knowles, assistant professor of architecture and project manager for the 2005 Rhode Island School of Design team. "We got very lucky to work with them."