Tourists at the National Mall in D.C. to check out the Smithsonian or the Washington Monument were recently treated to another architectural sight—20 houses under construction smack in the middle of everything. It was all part of the fourth annual Solar Decathlon, an annual event designed to inspire creative problem-solving and encourage alternative energy in homes.
The Rice University team's design was based on the architecture of the shotgun homes in the Third Ward, dubbed the ZEROW House to signify both the use of zero outside energy and it's ultimate destination as part of the Project Row Houses. It ultimately finished the competition in eighth, but ranked second in architecture and market viability and, coming in at under $100,000 without the cost of the solar panels, was by far the most affordable structure. As The Huffington Post noted, the decision to produce just enough electricity to power the house was practical for the market but hurt their overall score.
Lead student designer David Dewane told the Rice Design Alliance's OffCite blog, "It’s a good year to be the affordable team. That’s not going to matter as much to the jury as it does to the 120,000 people who walk through. Those are the people we are trying to communicate the message to that solar energy is really accessible."
OffCite also has a great photo diary of the team as they put together their house, and check out our slide show of the final result.