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SURE HOUSE Packs Up the Vinyl and Heads West

Aug 2015

THE SURE HOUSE is headed west.

Students at Stevens Institute have packed up and are shipping their sustainable and resilient solar-powered coastal house to Irvine, California, for the U.S. Department of Energy’s biennial solar decathlon.

At an open house prior to shipping out, students showcased their innovative architecture, engineering, and design. The house features a number of vinyl elements, including a vinyl reflective roof, and vinyl decking, cladding, and windows.

Fast Company called SURE HOUSE the “beach house of the flooded future.” The article explained:

Designed with the open layout of a beach cottage, the home is armored against extreme weather and uses 90 percent less energy than the average home of its size. What little energy it does consume is, of course, powered by the rugged solar cells on the roof. With the excess energy it generates, it can power an electric car or allow neighbors to plug in batteries if power goes out.

SURE HOUSE is one of 17 entrants selected to compete in the solar decathlon, an award-winning program that challenges collegiate teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive.

Judging on Architecture, Engineering, and More

The solar decathlon features 10 separate contests, and entrants accrue points in each category. Five—architecture, engineering, market appeal, communications, and affordability—are judged contests. In other words, it’s not enough to build a structurally sound home, it has to be a home that’s appealing enough that people might actually want to live in it.

The other five contests—comfort zone, appliances, home life, commuting, and energy balance—are measured. For energy balance, for example, each house is equipped with a bidirectional utility meter that allows organizers to measure each home’s energy production and consumption over the course of the competition. As part of the home life contest, each team has to host two dinner parties and one movie night.