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Photo of Solar House I among the trees at the Columbus Zoo. Enlarge image

Ohio State's Solar House I now resides at the Columbus Zoo. To honor the agricultural heritage of the state, the house uses local materials, including the reclaimed barn wood on the façade.
(Courtesy of Dave Nedrow)

Who: The Ohio State University
What: Solar House I
Columbus Zoo
4850 West Powell Road
Powell, OH 43065
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Public tours: The exhibit is open during the Columbus Zoo’s regular hours of operation through January 2011. For more information, call 1-800-MONKEYS.

Solar Decathlon 2009

The Ohio State University: Living Among the Animals

After the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2009, The Ohio State University's Solar House I was relocated and rebuilt at the Columbus Zoo in June 2010. It now welcomes visitors to the Polar Frontier exhibit, which features two polar bears—Anana and Aurora—in a 1.3-acre habitat. OSU loaned the house to the zoo for a two-year period while the exhibit raises funds for Polar Bears International.

"We'll definitely get a lot of exposure in this location," says Mark Walter, faculty advisor for the OSU Solar Decathlon 2009 team. The Columbus Zoo reported 2.2 million visitors last year—a record-breaking season.

As a first-time participant in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon, The Ohio State University (OSU) team achieved an impressive top-10 finish in the 2009 competition. Its "Ohio-centric" house owed much of its success to the combined expertise of students from 20 degree programs.

The team set out to complement influential climate research under way at OSU. From harvesting energy with adjustable solar panels to saving electricity with automated sensors, the house demonstrates a range of solutions for sustainable living.