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

Solar Decathlon 2011

The University of Tennessee

Living Light, placing eighth overall in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011, was donated to the Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge, where it is on permanent exhibition as part of their Kids Go Green! Environmental Learning Center. The home is located near the museum’s new gardens and serves as a kitchen for farm-to-table cooking demonstrations.

The University of Tennessee team had two goals for Living Light:

  1. Develop a culturally relevant, energy-efficient house by incorporating regional developments in climatic design and energy research, cutting-edge technologies, and advanced materials.
  2. Take advantage of the opportunities the project presented for public education and continued research at the University of Tennessee.

Following the competition, Living Light transformed into a traveling exhibit known as the Tennessee Tour. The exhibit demonstrated sustainability, energy efficiency, and emerging technologies to homeowners, community leaders, and industry professionals. During the Tennessee Tour, Living Light was displayed in four cities: Nashville, Memphis, Knoxville, and Chattanooga. It was also included at regional professional conferences, such as the Tennessee Valley Solar Solutions Conference and the Tennessee convention of the American Institute of Architects. Living Light returned to Washington, D.C., in June 2012, where it was featured as the sole architectural project represented at the 2012 Smithsonian Folklife Festival.

After traveling more than 4,000 miles and welcoming more than 50,000 visitors, Living Light returned to the University of Tennessee campus for a year of testing by faculty and students in partnership with researchers from Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the Tennessee Valley Authority, and the Electric Power Research Institute. The project served as a living laboratory in which architecture and engineering students studied its performance, materials, and technologies.

Photo of Living Light. Enlarge image

After Solar Decathlon 2011, Living Light traveled more than 4,000 miles before reaching its temporary home at the University of Tennessee Gardens, the official botanic gardens of the State of Tennessee, before moving to the Children's Museum of Oak Ridge. (Courtesy of Kiki Roeder)

Who: The University of Tennessee
What: Living Light
Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge
461 W. Outer Drive
Oak Ridge, TN 37830
Map This House

Public tours:
Living Light is open to the public for tours on the third Sunday of each month. See ChildrensMuseumofOakRidge.org/solar-house/ for more information.