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

Solar Decathlon 2011

Parsons The New School for Design and Stevens Institute of Technology

Following the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011, Empowerhouse was moved to the Deanwood neighborhood of Washington, D.C. The Parsons The New School for Design and Stevens Institute of Technology team worked with project partners Habitat for Humanity of Washington, D.C., and the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development to secure the site. It was the first Solar Decathlon house designed specifically to become a permanent home to a local family. And now it's home to two families.

Habitat D.C. added a second story as well as a second unit to make Empowerhouse a two-family duplex. The project was such a success, and the house is so cost-effective to build and live in, that Habitat D.C. broke ground on six more houses based on this prototype. Habitat for Humanity is exploring using the same building methods for other projects around the country. The house continues to be monitored to verify performance.

Empowerhouse tied for first place in the Solar Decathlon 2011 Affordability Contest, but its accolades didn't stop there. According to Orlando Velez, a student on the Empowerhouse Solar Decathlon team who now works for Habitat D.C. as an operations director, the house earned a 2012 Mayor's Sustainability Award from Washington, D.C., mayor Vincent C. Gray. In June 2012, Empowerhouse was featured in World Environment Day, sponsored by the District Department of the Environment. That same month, the team and house took part in the D.C. Solar Flare, a renewable-energy technologies show.

In the Solar Decathlon 2011 competition, Empowerhouse was a 1,000-ft2, one-bedroom structure that embodied Habitat for Humanity's vision that all people deserve safe, comfortable, affordable homes. Since 2012, Empowerhouse realizes that vision as a real home for two deserving families.

Photo of Empowerhouse in its final form at dusk. Enlarge image

Empowerhouse is now home to two Washington, D.C., families. Since the competition, project partner Habitat for Humanity of Washington, D.C., added a second story and a second unit to the house, making it a two-family duplex.

Who: Parsons The New School for Design and Stevens Institute of Technology
What: Empowerhouse
4609 and 4613 Gault Place
Washington, D.C. 20019
Map This House

Public tours: Not available