The Solar Homestead Project

article image

We would like to welcome MOTHER EARTH NEWS readers to the first blog of Appalachian State University’s Solar Homestead. The Solar Decathlon is a biannual solar home building event that is hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy. The competition consists of 10 contests that will evaluate the house’s aesthetics and measure its performance. We are very excited for the opportunity to share the next 10 months while competing to become recognized as the most innovative and affordable solar home design.

Our communications team at the Solar Homestead is intent on keeping you updated on new technologies and materials that we are using, such as bi-facial PV, phase change Trombe Walls, and OM’s (outdoor modules). We have some great minds working on innovative ideas and we look forward to bringing you continuous updates so as to keep you informed. We are involved in this competition to win, but more importantly to prove that sustainability is affordable, attractive, comfortable, and a path we should choose for the future.

Our team started with eight highly motivated students and two faculty members over one year ago. Now our team is staffed with approximately 40 student volunteers who are involved in areas such as Architecture, Interior Design, Engineering, Construction and Communications. We project that our team will grow to around 150 students who come from all different departments to make sure that every aspect of the 10 competitions are covered.

If you don’t know about the Solar Decathlon 2011 please check out the U.S. Department of Energy’s website and read about the event and the different categories of competition at This competition is considered to be one of the most prestigious solar competitions on the globe. The Solar Decathlon 2011 will be hosting teams from all over the world including China, New Zealand, Belgium, and Canada and the U.S. We also invite you to visit The Solar Homestead’s website at, where you can learn about our Homestead concept and design. Starting in January we will be featuring a live web cam of our construction bay for continuous coverage of our building operations until we break the house down and transport it to Washington, D.C., in September 2011.

Keep tuned in as our communications team will keep you updated on our design, engineering and construction process. We also have a campaign to get Appalachian State students involved and excited about sustainable solar design. Next blog we will talk a bit more detail about our design including the bi-facial PV, solar thermal DHW, phase-change Trombe wall, and the most unique part of our concept — the OM. The OMs function as the modern equivalent of the various traditional outbuildings, collecting a deluge of sunlight and delivering a flow of renewable energy.

We have a lot to talk about and we are excited to share our adventures with you over the upcoming months. So say tuned and keep your eyes open for new blogs.

“Don’t follow trends — start trends.” –Frank Capra