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Students from the Catholic University of America, George Washington University and American University have been working long and hard on their net-zero home to compete in this year’s Solar Decathlon. This week they unveiled their home in DC to show it off before they truck it to California for the competition. This is the first year that DC schools have competed in the competition, so it’s a bit of a shame that they missed out while it was held in their home town before getting kicked off the Mall.

The solar, prefab home features two modules, a public and private one, both of which have a strong connection to the outdoors with easy access to surrounding decks. The home is surrounded by a large garden that produces most of its own food and works to replenish its surrounding environment rather than just take from it. A photovoltaic system on the roof harvests energy from the sun, while heat recovery systems harvest excess heat inside the home to maximize efficiency. Rain is harvested from the roof to provide irrigation water and wind, in the form of ventilation, is harvested through operable doors and window when the climate conditions are optimum. Finally, Team Capitol DC’s design harvests materials through reuse and reclamation, which lowers the embodied energy content.

After finishing the competition, the home will have a second life serving wounded veterans as a transitional house. Besides sustainability, the home was designed to meet the needs of those with disabilities and injuries. “When we first began designing our home, we knew we wanted our house to serve a purpose long after the competition,” said student team member spokesperson Claire Ainsworth. “By creating a home concept that both effectively helps the environment and helps those who have served our country, we believe we have designed a practical and responsible home that we are excited to donate to Wounded Warrior Homes.”

Images ©Team Capitol DC