Like last week’s featured 2011 Solar Decathlon home, Self-Reliance from Vermont’s Middlebury College, today’s Decathlon contender is themed around good, old-fashioned independence and ingenuity. But while Self-Reliance was steeped in “we’ll manage without your help, thank you” New England values, Solar Homestead from Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C., celebrates old school resourcefulness with a distinctly Blue Ridge Mountain twist.

The ASU team explains the concept behind their 883-square-foot, two-bedroom creation designed specifically for energy-savvy urban homesteaders living in Asheville, N.C. (just don't tell the Dervaes family):
The isolation of early settlers to the mountains of North Carolina fostered a pioneer spirit in those who established self-sustaining living/working compounds on the frontier. The Solar Homestead fuses these values into a modern zero energy home, which remains true to these underlying principles by integrating renewable resources and innovative technology into a project that is adaptable, self- sufficient, rugged, affordable, and attractive.
Modern day green bells and whistles of the Solar Homestead include energy-efficient appliances, an 8.2kW solar canopy composed of bifacial solar panels, a solar thermal hot water system, and much more. The layout of the home itself is unique in that it revolves around six traditional lean-to shed inspired outbuilding modules (OMs) clustered around the Great Porch, a plus-sized (60-feet long) alfresco congregation area that’s just begging for a dinner bell. There’s even a special, 120-square-foot Flex-OM that stands independent of the main home that can be used as a art studio, meditation room, home office, or as a place to stash Granny when she visits.
For more OM-y goodness, take a virtual walk-though of Solar Homestead in the video below and head on over to the team’s Flickr stream to view construction photos (and some truly rockin’ Appalachian beards). You can also keep up to speed at the Solar Homestead blog and Facebook page. And finally, to tour the Solar Homestead yourself and wish the ASU team good luck, head on down to Washington D.C. for the 2011 Solar Decathlon, kicking off on Sept. 23 and running though Oct. 2  at West Potomac Park. 



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

2011 Solar Decathlon: Solar Homestead
Evoking the pioneering spirt of early Appalachian settlers, Appalachian State University's entry into the 2011 Solar Decathlon, Solar Homestead, is all about th