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Solar Decathlon: A sneak peek at the houses

By: Matt Hickman on Sept. 9, 2011, 7:07 a.m.
Tidewater Virginia: Old Dominion University, Hampton University, Unit 6 Unplugged

Photo: DOE

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Tidewater Virginia, Unit 6 Unplugged

Inspired by Norfolk's arts and crafts-style homes and meant to be installed in that city's historic urban core as part of a six-unit multifamily family residence dubbed the "Six Pack," Tidewater Virginia's Unit 6 Unplugged serves as a charming and affordable "alternative to its less-responsible urban counterparts." (Tidewater Virginia includes  Old Dominion University and Hampton University.) Although this super-efficient modular home sports a myriad of notable energy- and water-saving features, we're particularly digging the window and door sensors that provide security system information and keep the home's HVAC system from operating while either are left open; a shade-providing, plant-covered pergola that's ideal for alfresco entertaining; light switches powered by remote transmitters that can be placed anywhere in the home; and a porch area that, thanks to motorized windows, can be left open to the elements or enclosed with just a push of a button. As the folks at Cover Girl like to say: "Easy, breezy, beautiful."