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

Solar Decathlon 2013

Stevens Institute of Technology

Team website: www.stevens.edu/sd2013/

Ecohabit, the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2013 entry from Stevens Institute of Technology, addresses sustainability in all facets—from form, through construction, to the dynamics of its use. The house adapts to its occupants' needs and provides them with feedback on ways to reduce energy use to live more sustainably. Its L shape maximizes views of, and access to, the generous outdoor living space.

Design Philosophy

Ecohabit aims to redefine the relationship between a house and its occupants. Intelligent energy systems monitor the house, its occupants' behaviors, and regional climate information. In doing so, Ecohabit "cohabits" with its occupants—enabling house and user to learn from each other to create a more energy-efficient and sustainable lifestyle. Ecohabit's innovative technologies allow it to be an ultra-efficient house, designed to help its occupants live, learn, and grow with it.


  • Transparent doors fold away to provide access to two large decks sheltered by a large solar roof overhang.
  • The architectural design splits the house into separate "dry" and "wet" modules to allow for an energy-efficient distribution for the plumbing system.
  • The modular interior space includes a master bedroom, a bathroom, and a flex room that can become a home office or second bedroom.
  • The green roof and wall help insulate the house and collect rainwater for irrigating plants.
  • A central machine room functions as the "brain" of the house.


  • An integrated photovoltaic system maximizes the use of available space and powers the house without large roof panels.
  • An on-demand hot water system heats water when needed.
  • Bio-phase-change material allows the house to harness the sun's energy and heat during the day and release it into the house at night.
  • The misting system collects condensate from inside the house and uses it to mist the exterior HVAC unit, increasing its efficiency.
  • The smart energy management system monitors weather patterns, the habits of occupants, and their energy use to create a comfortable and energy-efficient living environment.

Market Strategy

Tailored specially for the Southern California market, Ecohabit is designed for a young, middle-class couple and child. With flexible elements that can be modified to meet needs of the users and an accessible design, Ecohabit empowers all users to engage with an adaptable, sustainable living environment.

What's Next

After Solar Decathlon 2013, Ecohabit will be relocated to the California State University San Marcos campus, where it will serve as a veterans center for the nearly 900 student veterans, service members, and military dependents at the school. In addition, the school plans to engage science and technology students to monitor the ongoing performance of the center in conjunction with the Stevens team.

"We always knew we wanted to donate Ecohabit to a deserving owner and put the house to a good use after the competition," said Mark Pollock, faculty project manager for Ecohabit and a veteran. "We felt strongly about its potential as a place for returning veterans or military personnel, given Stevens' history and longstanding relationships within the defense industry. When we found out CSUSM was in need of a new space for its veteran students, we felt it was a perfect fit."


Mark Pollock
Phone: 201-216-8984

Photo of members of the Stevens Institute of Technology  Solar Decathlon 2013 team standing on an athletic field marked with the letter  S. Enlarge image

The Stevens Institute of Technology Solar Decathlon 2013 team (Courtesy of the Stevens Institute of Technology Solar Decathlon 2013 team)

The Stevens Institute of Technology audiovisual presentation

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