Solar Decathlon (20)-Parson’s The New School for Design, Milano The New School for Management and Urban Policy, and Stevens Institute of Technology’s Empowerhouse Design of 2011


Dear Readers,

If you are in favor of renewable,  clean, or solar energy, please sign this petition for FIT/CLEAN Program, accessible at Thank you very much. We are at a critical juncture in human history when individual effort and participation in the transition into renewable energy age is desperately needed!  Your signature will be very meaningful in helping all earthlings!  For a summary of why we need to switch to power the earth with Wind-Water-Sunlight quickly, reasons are explained by Stanford Professor Mark Z. Jacobson at There are more than sixteen episodes of discussions on FIT (Feed-In-Tariff/CLEAN Program) available at Please feel free to read/listen to them (type in feed-in-tariff in the search box at right).  Keep in mind that signing this petition only means that you are in favor of renewable energy and FIT/CLEAN Program and does not obligate you to provide any financial support. We simply want our combined voice to be heard even if we are not spending millions of lobbying dollars. We want to demonstrate that our system of democracy will work for people in all socio-economic strata. So please join us in this earthly movement by signing this petition and participating in our common goal of moving toward the renewable and solar energy age.

Now,  we will turn our attention to a collaborative effort, the Empowerhouse, by three schools of design: Parson, Milano, and Stevens’ for a design that is both sustainable and affordable.  The Empowerhouse design was  first built  on the campus of Stevens Institute (in the Deanwood, Ward 7 District ), another house of the same design built in the lab in a controlled environment, then shipped down to Washington D.C. for Solar Decathlon.  Upon completion of Solar Decathlon, the house used for Solar Decathlon in Washington D.C.  will join the original house at the building site to become a two-family project. This house will be Washington D.C.’s first passive house (from both design and  technological view point) , definitely a historical site!  Empowerhouse is a true collaboration by people in the local community, Department of Energy,  the Habitat for Humanity, District Planning Office of Washington D.C., local A & C Commission, and students and faculty of the three schools.  The incentive for Empowerhouse is to design an affordable yet quality home for low income residents such that the energy cost for these residents will be practically  non-existent.  A project such as this is infused with collaboration from multi-directions and multi-groups of people;it is a celebration from the day of its groundbreaking. This approach to  sustainability is truly integrative, bringing about not only technological changes but also social changes. The large front porch integrates the family with community by encouraging greater interactions with neighbors and community.  As one enters the house, the entryway  frames the  view for  the garden way beyond.  One may find the mechanical closet and laundry room hidden in the entryway.  An electrical reversible heat pump system together with an energy recovery ventilator provides warm water and constant supply of fresh air throughout the house. A carefully scaled PV array, complimented by a green roof module system,  brings this house at site to net zero energy.  There is also an easily displayed monitor empowering the residents to  control their environment while monitoring their energy usage.  Water efficient low flow fixtures are installed to reduce water consumption throughout the house.  A large space with  South facing windows is well lit and is being used for kitchen and social and family interactions.  Kitchen is equipped with recycling and composting features, in addition to featured island for  entertaining. From this large window one can also see the vegetable garden and children playing in the back porch.  Planters are integrated into the house for residents to grow their own food and a rain garden collects and filters rainwater.  Placement, dimension, and shape of the windows are taking into considerations of views, daylight, and solar thermal gains. The overhang over the South porch shades during summer.  The unique sky oriented loft provides a multi-functional space (reading, playing, star gazing) while bringing natural light into the center of the home.  It is a pleasure for me to present to you this wonderful collaborative effort —>

written and posted by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker,

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One Response to “Solar Decathlon (20)-Parson’s The New School for Design, Milano The New School for Management and Urban Policy, and Stevens Institute of Technology’s Empowerhouse Design of 2011”

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