The Washington Post

Pepco buys Solar Decathlon house

The University of Maryland's entry in the Solar Decathlon, "Watershed," took the top prize. (University of Maryland)

Pepco has purchased the University of Maryland’s winning entry of the Solar Decathlon for $200,000, and plans to reassemble the environmentally conscious home on one of its properties to use as an educational site.

The university’s entry, called “Watershed,” is a solar-powered home inspired by the Chesapeake Bay that took the top prize in the U.S. Department of Energy’s contest last fall. It features a green roof that provides insulation and a system that filters sink and shower water, recycling it for use in wetland gardens built along the length of the house.

David Conrath, dean of the university’s School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, said Pepco expressed an interest in the property during the contest.

“The objective is for public education — that’s why we went with Pepco,” he said. “It will be open to the public, be used for public education. They envision having grade school and high school kids coming by and looking at it” and learning about sustainability, he said. The location hasn’t been decided.

As for the price, Cronrath said the $200,000 will go toward reimbursing the project’s $850,000 price tag — which he said includes building materials as well as university professors’ time and other related expenses.

Funds for the university projects come from donations and “very little” is paid for by the university, he said.

The home, which currently sits disassembled on the university’s College Park campus, will be located to one of Pepco’s facilities and put back together.

"In purchasing this home, Pepco is recognizing the hard work, commitment and creativity of the University of Maryland's Solar Decathlon 2011 Team," said the company's Vice President of Business Transformation Karen Lefkowitz, in a statement. "Their achievement cannot be overstated."

The university took second place with their 2007 entry in the Solar Decathlon and then sat out the 2009 contest. The home built in 2007 is currently located at the American Institute of Architects’s Potomac Valley chapter.

View Photo Gallery: Competitors from around the world face off in the Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon. The contest was started to demonstrate that solar power can be practical and affordable. This year’s event is held in West Potomac Park, a move from its usual home on the National Mall.

Related: U-Md. wins Solar Decathlon

Related: Cool things to see at the Solar Decathlon



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