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Photo of Cell House on display at the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2007 competition on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Enlarge image

The Universidad de Puerto Rico team boosted Cell House's energy efficiency with louvered screens and insulated translucent siding.
(Credit: Jim Tetro/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon)

Who: Universidad de Puerto Rico
What: Cell House
Universidad de Puerto Rico
Río Piedras Campus
San Juan, Puerto Rico 00931-1909
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Public tours: Contact the university at 787-764-0000 for tour information.

Solar Decathlon 2007

Universidad de Puerto Rico: Magnifying an Idea

After competing in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2007, the Universidad de Puerto Rico's Cell House traveled on a 72-foot trailer to the Atlantic Ocean, where it journeyed home by ship. The house returned to San Juan, where it was reconstructed on the university's Río Piedras campus in spring 2008. It is now used for exhibition purposes at the school of architecture.

Competing for its third time in 2007, Team Puerto Rico sought to merge all the components of a solar house into one efficient living module. The inspiration for the house's innovative systems came from a single cell. The simplest unit of a living organism, the cell produces energy, recycles waste, adapts to changing conditions, functions independently, and communicates with other cells. Cell House functions similarly with features such as an exterior screen made of recycled plastic and aquatic plants for water purification.

The team included students and professors from the university's Río Piedras and Mayaguez campuses. Because the 2005 house went back to the Mayaguez campus, the permanent location of Cell House on the Río Piedras campus allows students in the school of architecture, college of business administration, and school of communication to learn how a building-integrated photovoltaic research project is conducted … starting with just one cell.