Home of the Future: How a 1,000 sq. ft. Student-designed House Tackles Climate Change

As the East Coast braced for hurricane season, a team from Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey headed west to Irvine, California to compete in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon, a bi-annual event that challenges collegiate teams to design and build solar-powered, energy-efficient homes.

Entering the competition for a third year, the Stevens team drew inspiration from an event that directly impacted many of the students and faculty working on the home: Superstorm Sandy.

As a residential solar company headquartered in New Jersey, we, too, experienced the aftermath—the weeks-long stretch of power outages, storm surge that reshaped the coast, and 80+ mile-per-hour winds that shocked shore towns throughout the Northeast.

That’s why when we heard the Stevens students’ plan to create a home that was as equally sustainable (“SU”) as it was resilient (“RE”), it was an easy decision to partner with the SURE HOUSE team to provide solar and support the shared vision for the home of the future.

The decathlon entry is the result of more than 30 college students’ innovative minds, extensive research and testing. It’s the shore home of the future: a house that not only has sustainability factored in to every square foot, but one that can resist up to 5 feet of flood waters and stand the test of hurricane-strength wind.

On a day-to-day basis, 100% of the home’s energy comes from its solar array. In the event of a blackout, the home still draws on its solar from a backup energy source, keeping the lights on and power flowing during an emergency situation.

Projects like the SURE HOUSE show us how close we are to making the home of the future a reality. There is plenty of potential for residents to make their own homes more sustainable and resilient. Of the 125 million houses in U.S., an estimated 56 million are suitable for solar. That means we’ve hardly even scratched the surface in terms of market potential. Many people who live in apartments or don’t have rooftops eligible for solar, can still join the solar movement with shared solar, or community solar.

As we work together to tackle the challenges of a changing world and a changing climate, we are inspired to see young generations taking action to address the critical issues of the future.

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Kelcy Pegler, Jr. is President of NRG Home Solar, leading one of America’s largest and fastest growing residential solar companies. NRG Home Solar designs, installs and maintains solar systems that help homeowners bring clean, affordable energy directly to their homes as they realize the economic value of their home’s roof. Kelcy came to NRG following the company’s 2014 acquisition of New Jersey-based Roof Diagnostics Solar, Inc. (RDS). As a co-founder of RDS, he helped the firm become one of America’s top 10 companies in residential solar market-share and propel recognition from Inc. magazine as one of the country’s fastest growing companies. He holds a degree in Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. In 2013, he was named to New Jersey’s 40 under 40 by NJBIZ.

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