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Building Resilience for a Changing Climate

Jul 2015

Students at the Stevens Institute of Technology are entering the construction phase of their plan to build a different kind of coastal home. The SURE HOUSE, designed to be sustainable and resilient, will be solar powered and use 90 percent less energy than the average home.

The students’ goal is to create a model for sustainable, resilient housing in coastal communities. To achieve this goal, the SURE HOUSE team will need both a great design and to select building materials that are durable and resilient. One of these materials is PVC (vinyl).

Durability is an important environmental benefit of using PVC in construction. The longer a product lasts, the less energy and other resources must be expended to make and install replacement parts. PVC also conserves energy in the manufacturing process and—most importantly—in use.

In the construction market, vinyl is used in siding, electrical conduit, water distribution, fire sprinkler piping, fencing, gutters, roofing, flooring, wall coverings, and more.

SURE HOUSE is incorporating core vinyl elements.

Students have installed a vinyl reflective roof on the SURE HOUSE, and they have plans to add vinyl decking and vinyl cladding. Click here to view a video of the vinyl roof installation. In addition, there are PVC water pipes and vinyl wiring and cable insulation—and students are negotiating with a window manufacturer in hopes of including vinyl windows.

The SURE HOUSE is one of 17 entrants selected to compete in the U.S. Department of Energy’s biennial solar decathlon. The solar decathlon is an award-winning program that challenges collegiate teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive. The winning team will be the one that best blends affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency.