Since ground broke on the Start.Home, the students who are designing and building the Stanford University entry in the 2013 U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon have been learning their way around the construction site from five Carpenters Union instructors. CU is a Platinum-level project sponsor, joining other companies like DIRECTV, Intel, General Electric, Applied Materials, Boxh, Pine Cone Lumber, and Mitsubishi in an effort to change the way that green home building construction problems are solved.

Integrating technology into a home that can grow as needs change, the Start.Home design allows for customization and additions that are based on a pre-engineered, pre-fabricated start.core that can meet net-zero energy efficiency standards.

The Stanford design team aims to provide “efficiency without sacrificing creativity” such that each house can be an expression of its owner. The 12’x15’x10’ start.core features natural lighting, open spaces, a high roof that permits passive ventilation, and an emphasis on connecting the interior to the outdoors. The basic unit provides for a bathroom, kitchen, mechanical component access, and living areas. The start.core can be shipped on a standard truck trailer and installed on a lot for construction and customization.


Structural insulated panels (SIPs) are used for the primary structural system of the Start.Home, cut-to-size before delivery on-site to facilitate quick and easy construction. A 7kW photovoltaic system will provide about 30 kilowatt-hours a day and feed excess energy into centralized energy grids.


The USDE Solar Decathlon is a global competition that has been designed to promote solar technology through the selection of twenty teams that present their home designs to compete on ten criteria: architecture, comfort zone, market appeal, hot water, engineering, appliances, communications, home entertainment, affordability, and energy balance.

The team will dismantle and re-assemble the Start.Home prototype at the Solar Decathlon in October in Irvine Park, California.