The Solar Homestead, one of the most popular entries in the DOE-sponsored Solar Decathlon last fall, soon will move beyond the classroom and into the real world.

As part of a recent agreement to market and manufacture the energy-efficient home, Asheville, N.C.-based Deltec Homes is offering the structure to consumers nationwide as a panelized building shell or as a turnkey project for local customers.

The original 883-square-foot Solar Homestead, which was designed by students and professors at Appalachian State University, won the People's Choice Award at the 2011 Solar Decathlon in Washington D.C. As part of the new agreement, Deltec will pay royalties to support the university’s Department of Technology and Environmental Design's next large-scale, sustainable design-build project and other research and creative activities.

Displayed near the national mall last September and October and toured by thousands of visitors, the Solar Homestead is a self-sustaining, net-zero energy house inspired by the traditional homesteads of America's early mountain settlers. The project utilizes a highly energy-efficient building envelope, incorporating renewable resources and innovative technology into a prototype that is adaptable, self-sufficient, affordable and attractive. Students merged traditional sustainable practices with modern clean-energy technology, including:
•Forty-two bifacial photovoltaic panels that supply solar energy while providing filtered daylight and protection from the elements
•An on-demand solar thermal domestic hot water system that uses phase-change materials to provide constant water temperature in compact storage
•A trombe wall that is filled with phase-change material to store heat throughout the day and release it at night.

The plans offered by Deltec start at 1,032 square feet and feature a two- or three-bedroom floor plan and additional outbuilding modules for living and storage space customized to owners’ needs. "The Solar Homestead is a house people can grow into, and add on to at a later date," says Chad Everhart, ASU associate professor.

The biennial Decathlon is a program that challenges collegiate teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive. For the 2011 competition, 19 teams and their solar-powered houses competed in 10 categories that included engineering, hot-water generation, affordability, market appeal, energy balance, and architecture.

For coverage of the 2011 Solar Decathlon, including a slide show of the competition’s best designs and innovations, click here