How do you design a “green” house for a family with an income under $50,000?
This tight budget question can be an economic nightmare, as the average costs of photovoltaic cells, specialized insulation and ipad environment-regulating technology hit in the multi-thousand dollar mark.
Parsons The New School for Design and Stevens Institute of Technology teamed up to tackle going green on a budget for their solar decathlon entry, Empowerhouse.
The house aimed to outlast the two week showcase on the mall as a partnership with Habitat for Humanity will bring the modular creation to the Deanwood neighborhood for a family to live in when the competition ends.
Affordability was a new category in the 2011 Solar Decathlon and this team spent the least amount of money to take home the top prize.
While aiming for affordability, the team took an artistic stab at designing a house that’s aesthetic would also fit in with the historical Deanwood architecture.
A lower income neighborhood with deep rooted ties to the surrounding Minnesota Ave. community, the majority of houses have wide front porches and an outdoor brick edifice.
The Empowerhouse mimicked this design, with both a front and back porch for the family to enjoy. While it is hard to imagine a newly created, 21st century creation with futuristic energy solutions fitting in with traditional houses from the turn of the 20th century, it combines innovation with preservation. The traditional features of typical Deanwood homes are incorported with innovated technology not normally available for lower income homes. Their mission of bringing “green” solutions to every tax bracket spreads both innovative technology and compassion for humanity.