The Empowerhouse, a home that produces all of its own energy, has just been built in a Washington D.C. neighborhood. It was designed by students at the New School and Stevens Institute of Technology as part of a Solar Decathlon design competition, which partnered with the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development. This made one of the competition’s homes a reality for the first time ever.
This “net-zero” home consists of a bright, bold exterior, with an interior built out of recycled materials and receives plenty of natural light. The exterior contains stormwater management systems that help control heavy runoff impacting polluted rivers. Each unit has a terrace with a green roof and small agriculture plot, with a rain garden in the rear that captures rainwater escaping from the roof gardens. There is also an underground cistern that collects rainwater and uses it to water the property.
The parking space is made of permeable pavers, allowing stormwater to sink into the soil. It is also placed on D.C.’s first residential green street, which contains a trough full of dirt and plants that soak up street runoff and absorb oily pollutants.
The house is a shining example of how sustainable, affordable housing is possible, even in inner-city neighborhoods. Now that Habitat for Humanity is involved as well, it is likely that more of these homes will be popping up around the country.