• An early design concept by the students working on the Empowerhouse project shows one option for the home's exterior.

    Credit: Courtesy Parsons the New School for Design

    An early design concept by the students working on the Empowerhouse project shows one option for the home's exterior.
The 2011 Solar Decathlon will reach beyond the National Mall in Washington, D.C., as students from Parsons the New School for Design, Milano the New School for Management, and Stevens Institute of Technology will develop not one, but two Passive House–certified homes next year: one that will be judged in the biennial competition, and one that will be constructed in the city’s Deanwood neighborhood. “We wanted our project to show how our single-family house could be easily adapted in an urban context, which is a more sustainable framework for solar energy due to the density of inhabitants,” says Laura Briggs, lead faculty on the Empowerhouse project and assistant professor and chairwoman of sustainable architecture at Parsons.

Deanwood residents, during design charrettes with the students, requested workshops on energy issues that will start this fall. After the competition, the structures will be combined to create a semi-detached, two-family home for local residents, who will help with the construction. Consuming up to 90 percent less energy for heating and cooling, the project also will feature water conservation and stormwater management systems, daylighting, and a green roof and garden. Architects from Zavos Architecture+Design of Frederick, Md.—the architect of record—and members from D.C.’s Habitat for Humanity will take training courses in Passive House principles.

  • The Deanwood site in Northeast Washington, D.C., where the Empowerhouse project will come together as a semi-detached, two-family home for local residents.

    Credit: Courtesy Parsons the New School for Design

    The Deanwood site in Northeast Washington, D.C., where the Empowerhouse project will come together as a semi-detached, two-family home for local residents.

Construction for both houses will begin in the spring, with completion slated for the end of 2011. For more information, visit parsit.parsons.edu.