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The SURE HOUSE Wins Solar Decathlon

Jan 2016

The SURE HOUSE, a beach home built to be sustainable and resilient, took home top honors at the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2015 Solar Decathlon. The home was conceived, designed, and built by students at the Stevens Institute of Technology.

In announcing the winners, David Danielson, DOE assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy, said, “The homes you built demonstrate how affordable, renewable, and energy-saving products available today can cut energy bills, reduce pollution, and protect our climate. You have shown the skills and dedication necessary to advance renewable energy and energy efficiency throughout our economy in the decades to come.”

The SURE HOUSE team’s goal was to create a model for sustainable, resilient housing in coastal communities. The home was being built around three core principles: energy efficiency; fully solar powered; and a resilient energy hub.

Energy Smarts and Curb Appeal

The SURE HOUSE placed first in six of the 10 categories (and tied for first in another), including architecture, engineering, and market appeal—all keys to going beyond a concept house to a home that builders can build and families can purchase and live in.

In announcing the news to the broader university community, Stevens Institute of Technology President Nariman Farvardin said, “Our stellar team of more than 60 students and faculty has approached this very daunting challenge by thinking and planning strategically, exhibiting creativity and innovation, working together as a team on engineering problems, architectural design, communications plans, fundraising, and more. They have worked tirelessly for nearly two years toward this achievement.”

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


Putting PVC to Work

SURE HOUSE has a vinyl reflective roof, along with vinyl decking, vinyl cladding, and vinyl windows. In addition, there are PVC water pipes and vinyl wiring and cable insulation.

The Vinyl Institute sponsored the SURE HOUSE to highlight the role of vinyl in building and construction —including its durability, versatility, energy efficiency, and thermal efficiency.

The SURE HOUSE was one of 17 entrants selected to compete in the U.S. Department of Energy’s biennial solar decathlon. Three teams dropped out of the rigorous competition during the build process—leaving 14 teams to showcase their work in Irvine, California.