U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon | Powered by the Sun

Solar Decathlon 2011

The Ohio State University


The Ohio State University's U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon entry, enCORE, presents a family-friendly solution for residential needs while addressing the world's growing energy problem. enCORE features living spaces arranged around a central core that contains the house's mechanical and plumbing systems. The flexible, interconnected design gives this 930-ft2 (86-m2) solar-powered house the same functionality and livability of projects much larger in size and budget.

Design Philosophy

enCORE creates balance among necessities, environmental sensibilities, economics, and aesthetics through a holistic design approach. An adjustable exterior screen provides privacy and protection from the sun, a bioremediation system filters rainwater and brings nature close to the house's residents, and a dynamic plan that extends outward from a consolidated building core provides generous living spaces inside and out.


enCORE embodies an approach that places a high priority on maximizing passive performance. Features include:

  • State-of-the-art triple-glazed windows that minimize heat loss while maximizing solar gain

  • A super-insulated exterior envelope with double the insulation value of conventional homes

  • Natural lighting throughout the house based on activity areas.


Through a combination of low-cost passive measures and the thoughtful use of technology, enCORE is cost-effective and ultra-efficient. Technological solutions include:

  • A flat-plate solar thermal collector in combination with a heat pump water heater to further improve energy efficiency

  • A unique solar thermal hot air system to maximize occupant comfort and minimize energy consumption

  • An 8-kW photovoltaic array that consists entirely of thin-film panels manufactured locally in Toledo, Ohio

  • A simple control interface that controls lighting, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems with an intuitive and informative touch-screen display.

Market Strategy

Many neighborhoods in Columbus, Ohio, would benefit from redevelopment and rejuvenation. enCORE is a proposal for a residential neighborhood with an average income that is lower than the rest of the city. A sustainable house will ultimately save money for residents while promoting sustainable practices in the community.


Mark Walter
Department of Mechanical Engineering
E331 Scott Laboratory
201 West 19th Ave.
Columbus, OH 43210
Phone: 614-292-6081

Photo of The Ohio State University team members standing in front of a building. Enlarge image

The Ohio State University Solar Decathlon team (courtesy of The Ohio State University Solar Decathlon team).

Illustration of enCORE in a grassy setting surrounded by trees. The silhouette of a woman is on the porch, and a child plays outside. Enlarge image

A computer-generated rendering of The Ohio State University's enCORE (courtesy of The Ohio State University Solar Decathlon team).

A video walkthrough of The Ohio State University's Solar Decathlon house.

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