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

Solar Decathlon 2011

University of Maryland

WaterShed was the first-place winner of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011. After the competition, the University of Maryland's entry was purchased by Pepco, the electric service provider to Maryland and Washington, D.C.

In July 2013, Pepco began the six-week re-assembly of the house at one of its facilities in Montgomery County, Maryland. It opened in early 2014 and has provided walk-in tours as well as virtual tours. In its first four years of operation, the sustainability center saw nearly 13,000 visitors. In 2017, AIA Maryland named the house one of the "25 must-see buildings in Maryland."

“Visiting groups range from Boy Scout groups to high-level engineering firms in the area,” say press materials by Scott Tjaden, a former Decathlete who now works for Pepco and has manned the house as a tour guide as well as a part of their residential user innovation team. “Visitors are influenced through multiple channels: scheduled group tours, walk-in tours during public hours, events at the site, or the virtual platform for distant visitors. Walk-ins are a majority of the time paying their bill at the Customer Service Center and interested in the facility or have questions regarding solar panels and Pepco’s involvement with renewables.”

As the Sustainability Center gets more publicity online through blog posts and articles, he said, “more people are making a dedicated trip to the site during the advertised public hours of 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. via the webpage. The parallel to middle school STEM curriculum has increased the number of fourth- and sixth-grade classes significantly. Local collaboration with STEM nonprofits (Kids Museum) helping to provide a location for workshops and events, while allowing students a real-life example of many topics on WaterShed.”

WaterShed was inspired by the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem and is a model for how a house can help preserve watersheds everywhere by managing storm water onsite, filtering pollutants from greywater, and minimizing water use.

Photo of a section of WaterShed being lowered into its final location by crane. Enlarge image

Solar Decathlon 2011 first-place winner WaterShed was re-assembled at one of Pepco's facilities in Montgomery County, Maryland. (Photo courtesy of Amy Gardner)

Who: University of Maryland
What: WaterShed
201 West Gude Drive
Rockville, MD
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Public tours: Not available