Between Team New York, the (em) powerhouse trio of Parsons the New School for Design, Milano the New School for Management and Urban Policy, and the Stevens Institute of Technology, and the work of today’s featured team, Team New Jersey (a collaborative effort between Rutgers and the New Jersey Institute of Technology), the 2011 Solar Decathlon is looking to be a very Tri-State area affair (you’re sure missing out Connecticut).
Called ENJOY House, Team New Jersey’s entry into U.S. Department of Energy’s biennial collegiate solar home building competition is a sleek but sturdy, super-efficient shore house built from pre-cast insulated concrete panels (a Solar Decathlon first) tough enough to withstand the elements — and destructive, 3 a.m. rampages from diminutive, margarita-guzzling shore-dwellers.
Bad Snooki jokes aside, from the inverted hip-shaped  roof — "calibrated for optimal solar energy and rainwater collection" — to the hydronic radiant floors, this ADA-compliant home designed with retired New Jersey shore-goers in mind packs numerous sustainable elements into 960 accessible-to-everyone-square-feet. Meant to showcase the versatile, thermal properties of the aforementioned pre-cast insulated concrete panels, the net-zero energy one-bedroom home is organized around a central core that contains the structure's mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems. Increasing natural daylighting in the bedroom and adding a neat "floating" visual trick are a band of fiberglass-framed clerestory windows positioned just below the heavy concrete roof.  
Other eco-technologies incorporated into ENJOY House include an energy recovery ventilator, evacuated solar thermal tubes for water heating, a user-friendly building management system, and the requisite rooftop photovoltaic system — this one is 9-kW with a target daily electric output of 36-kilowatt hours.
The concrete theme is also prevalent in ENJOY's interior design ... the material can be found in everything from the kitchen sink to the shower bench to various customized furnishings. And as mentioned, the structure is ADA-accessible and based on universal design principles, meaning that folks with and without disabilities will feel right at home. Explains Team New Jersey: "As the owner matures into retirement the house will remain comfortable and accessible, being only a single level accessed by ramps and designed with large amounts circulation space around the central core."
Outside, ENJOY boasts a nifty, fully-automated rainwater collection system that directs reclaimed water to a cistern underneath the home's modular vegetable planters. Low-maintenance native Northeastern shore plants including seaside goldenrod, false asters, and American dune grass make up the landscaping scheme around the home.
For more details on Team New Jersey's solar-powered shore house — a home where "cutting-edge solar, fabrication, and environmental intelligence of today's smart homes meet the age-old technology of concrete" — head on over to the project website. There's also ENJOY House Facebook and Twitter accounts as well as a Flickr stream where you can see the home coming together in preparation for the big event.
And on that note, be sure to stay tuned for my upcoming coverage of the 2011 Solar Decathlon, kicking off on September 23 in Washington D.C.'s West Potomac Park and running through October 2. I'll be featuring one competing home a week up until show time so stay tuned ...

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

2011 Solar Decathlon: ENJOY House
ENJOY House, Team New Jersey's entry in the 2011 Solar Decathlon, is a residence designed for low-maintenance beachside living and built from a material new to