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Photo of Virginia Tech's solar-powered house at the Science Museum of Virginia in Richmond. Enlarge image

The solar-powered house built by Virginia Tech for Solar Decathlon 2005 is on exhibit at the Science Museum of Virginia in Richmond.
(Courtesy of Virginia Tech and Science Museum of Virginia)

Who: Virginia Tech
What: Solar house
Virginia Polytechnic Institute
Cowgill Hall
1325 Perry St.
Blacksburg, VA 24061-0002
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Public tours: See Virginia Tech's website.

Solar Decathlon 2005

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University: Providing a Hands-On Solar Experience

The solar-powered house designed by Virginia Tech for the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2005 was relocated to Richmond’s Science Museum of Virginia. As a hands-on exhibit, the house offered visitors a chance to learn about renewable energy technologies available for homes. After seven years on exhibit, the house was put up for public auction with a starting bid price of $70,000 in November 2014. For now, however, the house is back on display in front of Virginia Tech’s Cowgill Hall.

The solar house arrived in Richmond in January 2007 along with faculty and students from the College of Architecture and Urban Studies. In addition to reconstructing the house, the team drilled a 500-ft geothermal well according to their proposed design. The house’s electrical system was then connected to the museum and tied to the power grid.

By January 24, 2007, the house was ready for its first resident: State Sen. Frank Wagner, Virginia Beach. The longtime proponent of alternative energy lived in the house for one week to demonstrate the promise of energy-efficient living. In March 2007, the house opened to the public for tours.

Previously, the house had been reconstructed in front of Cowgill Hall on Virginia Tech’s campus. It remained on site for just more than one year following the Solar Decathlon. During this time, select team members and faculty leaders testified before the U.S. House Committee on Science’s energy subcommittee. The team also built a meditation room featuring some of its decathlon-perfected technologies for an episode of ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”

In addition to winning first place in the Architecture and Dwelling contests at Solar Decathlon 2005, Virginia Tech’s decathletes have received several honors for their work on the project. These include a 2006 Honor Award from the Virginia Society of the American Institute of Architects, an American Institute of Architects Presidential Award, and a National Council of Architectural Registration Boards Honorable Mention for the Creative Integration of Practice and Education in the Academy.