Solar Decathlon Team in partnership with Habitat for Humanity and D.C. Government have completed Empowerhouse, a project to build affordable and self-efficient housing, for two families in the Deanwood neighborhood of Washington.
Empowerhouse is the result of an interdisciplinary work of various architects, interior designers, and product designers together with over 200 graduate and undergraduate urban policy students. The project won the Mayor's Sustainability Award.
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"This project fulfills a longstanding vision of our team to create a house that would endure in a meaningful way after the Solar Decathlon was over," said Joel Towers, executive dean of Parsons The New School for Design.
"Empowerhouse illustrates The New School's commitment to design-led civic engagement, and is a true model of affordable sustainable housing that has the potential for national as well as international replication. Due to the success of this project, Parsons is now in the planning stages of a second project to build a home with Habitat in Philadelphia."
The designed is based on a "site net-zero" system which generates all the energy the house needs. The house follows Passive House standards which helps cut off over 80 percent of annual energy cost compared to a conventional house. This helps reduce CO2 emissions from using fossil fuels for producing electricity.
The design team also works with Lederer Youth Garden to create Deanwood Community Garden with the hope to help families plant and grow their own food. A considerable amount of water is lost to the public sewer system every year. Empowerhouse provides a water solution by including a rainwater harvesting system that catch and store rainwater from all sites of the house for various uses.
"Because the passive house design can reduce a home's total energy consumption by 80-90 percent, the owners of the Empowerhouse units will enjoy substantially lower energy costs throughout the lifetime of their homes," commented Susanne Slater, President and CEO of DC Habitat.