In 2011, Empowerhouse, a low-impact, environmentally sustainable home envisioned and built by students from Parsons, Milano, and the Stevens Institute of Technology, took first place in the affordability contest at the Solar Decathlon in Washington D.C.
Held every few years since 2002, the Solar Decathlon, “challenges collegiate teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive.” (Solar Decathlon official website.)
What distinguished Empowerhouse from similar models, however, was its principle intent: whereas most entries are generally sold or used for research or public display, Empowerhouse was the first entry designed to permanently house a local family. The home was moved from the National Mall to the neighborhood of Deanwood, where it was raffled off to a local family by Habitat for Humanity D.C.
Nearly two years later, Empowerhouse’s legacy continues to impact local urban redevelopment planning in the D.C. area. Orlando Velez, a Milano alumnus that worked on the Empowerhouse as a student and now works as Habitat for Humanity D.C.’s Manager of Housing services, reports that they have responded to a request for proposals put out by the D.C. Housing Authority for the redevelopment of a 1,500-unit site in Southeast D.C. If chosen, D.C. Habitat will build 200 units on the site, all of which will be based on Empowerhouse. The housing authority is expected to make its decision this summer. Click here to read more.