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Solar Decathlon: A sneak peek at the houses

By: Matt Hickman on Sept. 9, 2011, 7:07 a.m.
Appalachian State University, Solar Homestead

Photo: DOE

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Appalachian State University, Solar Homestead

While many of the homes competing in the 2011 Solar Decathlon are decidedly future-centric, Appalachian State University's Solar Homestead is inspired by the past, specifically the "independence and ingenuity" of early American pioneers who lived and breathed self-reliance. Although the rugged Appalachian settlement lifestyle of yesteryear is the driving force behind this two-bedroom, 833-square-foot abode designed specifically with the residents of the eco-minded mountain town of Asheville, N.C., in mind, it certainly doesn't lack the green bells and whistles of today including energy-efficient appliances, a rooftop array of bifacial solar cells and a solar thermal hot water system. That's all well and good but it's one of this net-zero energy home's old time-y, rocking chair-friendly features, a plus-sized alfresco congregation area dubbed the Great Porch, that has us yearning for dinner bells, cast-iron skillets and vintage canning jars.