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Photo of Santa Clara University's Ripple House on campus with a rainbow in the sky behind it. Enlarge image

The sun shines on Santa Clara's Ripple House after a rain storm passes.
(Courtesy of Timothy Hight)

Who: Santa Clara University
What: Ripple House
Santa Clara University campus
500 El Camino
Santa Clara, CA 95053
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Public tours: Learn more at SCU's website.

Solar Decathlon 2007

Santa Clara University: Using and Reusing

After the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2007, the Santa Clara University team returned to campus to reconstruct Ripple House next to the Bannan Engineering Building. It is now permanently located in the Forge Garden, SCU’s half-acre organic garden that provides a space for research, service learning, and sustainable food production. More than 100 sensors are now contributing to the collection of real-time data in Ripple House and benchmarking its performance on a daily basis.

The decathletes from Santa Clara University demonstrated an extraordinary ability to extend the life of objects past their prime while competing on the National Mall. Their solar-powered house incorporated insulation made from recycled blue jeans, kitchen tiles made of recycled bottles, a deck constructed from recycled plastic, and outdoor furniture made of old wine barrels. Not surprisingly, the team hoped it could reuse the house in several ways—ranging from course material to laboratory space—after the competition.

Santa Clara University was able to secure grant funding from the California Energy Commission’s Public Interest Energy Research program in February 2009. This money was given in support of research on the photovoltaic market and carbon economy in California.

The data collected at Ripple House help the university better understand things such as grid safety for high-performing houses. Students are also looking at ways to make solar panel installations quicker and easier for consumers. By continuing to advance sustainable building practices, Ripple House is showing that its impact extends far beyond the original concept.