Making Green Affordable

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.

House in the Minnesota Ave. neighborhood, courtesy of flickr user ElvertBarnes

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.

-Melissa Turley

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2 thoughts on “Making Green Affordable

  1. Hi Melissa,

    Nice work. I like the photos and your hook at the beginning is great. Your title is good but try to add one or two more searchable terms, maybe make it “Parsons: Making Green Design Affordable.” Web titles are generally more informative than print to attract more hits through Google. Good job with the hyperlinks. I like the hopeful message of your story.

    Best,

    Melissa M

  2. Frank Sesno says:

    So…do you think they succeeded? Will their design fit into the neighborhood? What are their concerns (expressed in your video) and what are your thoughts about their prospects for success. The blog is a place to prod, provoke, inform, engage. You can put yourself in here a bit, while still providing information and background. A few more links to the house, to videos about the house, to the team video on planet forward would be effective and useful because they’d take your readers deeper into the project. Blog on!

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