When Cornell students David Wax, Emile Chin-Dickey, Stephanie Horowitz, Benjamin Uyeda, and Jordan Goldman set out trying to create an off-the-grid solar-powered home for the biennial Solar Decathlon Competition, little did they know that their efforts would launch their careers as gurus of Zero-Energy design. The Solar Decathlon, which is held on the mall in Washington DC every two years — and kicks off again tomorrow! — is a green design-build competition where student teams compete to see who can create the most energy efficient solar house. The Cornell students’ cleverly designed home was so smart and energy efficient that it took second prize in 2005’s prestigious competition, inspiring the group to start their own business dedicated to designing zero energy homes.

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  1. taconia December 1, 2013 at 3:57 pm

    Since I have not seen the home up close and personal, a few questions:
    1. Appears to be wood siding with no overhang–isn\\\’t this going to lead to one or more familiar siding problems like water infiltration, need for frequent cleaning and sealing and staining, warping, etc?

    2. What\\\’s the payback on what appear to be some relatively expensive components?

  2. andy Brokmeyer October 14, 2007 at 9:32 pm

    I love it!
    Where can I buy plans for this or similiar zero energy homes?

  3. db burns October 12, 2007 at 12:42 pm

    I’ve always said, s strawbale home of the same size, with the same acoutrements would be slightly under $100k, and ever more efficient, using more sustainable and organic materials. Prefabs are a neat novelty for the younger design-inspired, but for true effeciency vs cost (effeciency of $), good old strawbale always beats them hands down. You can even build them yourselves, with very little working knowledge, unlike prefabs that have to be built far away in an ineffecient factory by a team, and then ineffeciently trucked to your awaiting foundation. Your strawbale home would already be built by the time that truck arrived…

    Why isn’t their a strawbale competition instead?

  4. djfred October 11, 2007 at 5:23 pm

    Aesthetics are of course in the eye of the beholder but my taste is impeccable and for the most part I like this a lot just the way it is. It’s not as breathtakingly gorgeous as the Marmol Radziner Desert House or the Living Homes design, but they’re not designed to be as self-sustaining and I don’t believe that either one of them has been con
    structed for under 750K.
    I’ve yet to see a prefab design that I wouldn’t want to change slightly and I think this would look better with more glass up front but that would detract from the energy efficiency. The wood exterior is nice, the proprtions aren’t bad the wrap around planter is a nice touch and everythings to a purpose. I definitely prefer this design to the Sustain MiniHome, based on aesthetics. I’m not really sure why. Bottom line, if it came in under 200K, I’d strongly consider it and if they could keep it around 150K, I’d be the first one to write them a check.

  5. Adam October 11, 2007 at 4:49 pm

    If you follow the links in the article you will see more traditional houses, designed by their new company. Like this one:

  6. Joyce October 11, 2007 at 12:51 pm

    I love the modern design, which seems to be prevalent in the green building realm, but I’m wondering if any concept homes ever look more traditional?

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