Usually when it comes to building energy economic houses the most important counter argument is that the initial investment is so large that only a few people could even think about getting such houses. Nonetheless the winning project of the 2011 Solar Decathlon has proven people wrong from this point of view.
It has been the first time in case of prefabricated home building contests that the jury has evaluated the projects based on their affordability. Those teams that managed to create the home with less than $250,000 got whole points.
Nonetheless it has been quite surprising that only two teams managed to get those points. In this case the final costs have been of $229,000 and the projects have been created by Stevens Institute of Technology and Parsons the New School for Design.
This project got the name of Empowerhouse, and it is more important than the rest of the projects, because the project is going to be a part of Habitat for Humanity, becoming the home of a family from Washington D. C. once the competition ends.
In the moment when the team members entered the contest, they knew what they wanted and this is why they got a partnership with Habitat for Humanity. They managed to create a project that raises the bar from every point of view, becoming the first house of this kind in the region and making the competition go to another level.
The house has been built to be replicated, and, as it has been mentioned before, the team has been able to use as little money as possible. In the moment when other houses are going to be built as well, the costs will drop a little because the team has been using labor, while the Habitat for Humanity program is working with volunteers.
The house has been built for a given site and because of this the team has been forced to make some adjustments that might cost them when it comes to the points. Every little part of the house has been designed and created by the members of the team. The project will be tested and hopefully it will pass the standards of Passive House.
Since the house is using solar heat, the largest side of the house should be facing into the direction that has the most sunlight. Also the insulation is important, and this is why the project has cellulose insulation.