Gallery: Vote For Your Favorite House in the 2011 Solar Decathlon!

Image © Jill Fehrenbacher for Inhabitat
There's currently 19 amazing sun-powered going head-to-head in this year's Solar Decathlon in Washington DC, and we want to know which one is your favorite! Forget that New Zealand's First Light house just dominated the engineering contest, that the University of Maryland cleaned up in the architecture contest with their Watershed house, or that Purdue's INhome and Parsons + Stevens' Empowerhouse blew the other houses away with their affordability - we want to hear from you, our discerning readers. So cast your vote for your favorite one of these 7 high-tech solar houses!
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The DOE & the Solar Decathlon are also running their own People’s Choice Award for the first time ever, so you should definitely go check it out and vote! Read on for a look at each of these amazing solar-powered homes:

While other homes in the competition wooed us with fancy features like moving walls, we were impressed to see that Middlebury College’s Self Reliance House really worked on perfecting the basics. The home’s concept focused on sourcing many materials locally, including wood from the College’s own forests and insulation made from sheep’s wool from a local farm. Another feature that we at Inhabitat, being big fans of urban gardening, loved was that the house has plenty of space for residents to grow their own food.

Team New Zealand is showing how things are done south of the equator with their beautiful First Light home, which just won the engineering contest at the 2011 Solar Decathlon! Locally-sourced materials like sheep’s wool insulation are combined with handmade furnishings and smart design to create this breezy “Kiwi Bach” inspired home.

Ohio State’s enCORE house is built around a central mechanical core and features a locally manufactured solar array on the roof. Geared towards a family on a budget, the home is an affordable and space conscious design.

The Southern California-based dynamic duo of Sci_Arc and Caltech have combined their powers to design the out-of-this-world inside-out CHIP house, which was inspired by an astronaut’s suit. A puffy, white, heavily-insulated exterior encapsulates a compact yet flexible interior complete with enough high-tech gadgetry to keep the house running completely off-grid.

Leading the pack of do-gooders, the Parsons New School and Stevens Insitute team has bigger plans for their Empowerhouse than just the Solar Decathlon. Having tied for first in affordability, the prefab home will eventually get rolled into a Habitat for Humanity project in a nearby neighborhood in Washington DC.

Although Purdue’s INhome is traditional looking on the outside, its interior hosts an array of cutting edge green building technologies. Super energy-efficient design, SIP construction, and a carefully integrated solar system on the roof are all part of the strategy to make this sustainable design appeal to the mass market.

Stunning architecture combined with super conscious water design sets the University of Maryland’s Watershed house apart from the rest. Lush landscaping, an integrated wetlands, and a green roof all help to manage storm water, while water-efficient design inside minimizes H2O use.

Designed and built with Native Canadians in mind, Team Canada’s TRTL house is a modular solar home inspired by the teepee. With a floor plan centered around large family gatherings, low maintenance, and durability, the dome-like house could be the answer to home ownership for many Native Canadians in southern Alberta.

+ Inhabitat’s Solar Decathlon Coverage


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  1. dbolex September 30, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    I find your bias attention to the decathlon disheartening. I think every team in this competition should be given a fair shake due to the fact they are just 19 of many institutions given the opportunity to build their designs. All 19 designs are suited for their respected climate and are completely off the grid! All schools have sacrificed just the same and I believe Inhabitat should acknowledge all entries as they are all winners in my mind…

  2. rubbishworks September 30, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    definately the new zealand house.

    Rubbish Works -Seattle

  3. brendatucker September 30, 2011 at 9:45 am

    I’m very glad to see something that isn’t slat-oriented. Go Sci_Arc / Caltech CHIP!

  4. Jasmin Malik Chua September 30, 2011 at 9:25 am

    Hard to decide, but I have to root for the home team: Parsons!

  5. peggyfara September 29, 2011 at 9:45 pm

    Hi Jill,
    Thanks for covering this fabulous event! But how about Vermont’s own Middlebury College solar home? They were in 4th place last I looked. It would be great to be able to vote for them here.
    Peggy Farabaugh

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