Conference Year



solar, efficiency, net zero, home


This paper is based, in part, upon the involvement of students and their faculty advisors in the biennial Solar Decathlon Project, a student competition that culminated in the construction of energy efficient residential units at Potomac Park in Washington D.C. in September, 2011. These residential structures designed and built by students, represented differing visions of future housing by universities from the United States, China, New Zealand and the Netherlands. All represented engineering and design excellence and reflected each team‟s vision of a more complete, more holistic approach to the question of what we as a civilization will live in over the next half century. All showcased emerging technologies that could, if utilized, substantially change what we relate to as home. Of central importance to this discussion is whether and to what extent these technologies will be assimilated by a building industry and the buying public. It is this acceptance, or lack thereof, that will determine what we live in, not the technical wizardry that may be available. Any significant change in what we live in will be driven by market realities. This is a fundamental issue that is frequently overlooked in discussions of this nature. Cutting edge technology is of esoteric interest only unless it has commercial appeal and application. It is axiomatic that what we live in lags behind what can be produced. Much of the present housing stock represents mid twentieth century or older technology The demographics of the United States indicate that what exists as well as what is being built will soon be considered unacceptable for a number of reasons. The question is how can better technology be introduced to an industry and a public resistant to change in this area?