Students ready to send solar house on the road

September 7, 2011

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University's INhome solar house will leave campus by truck early Monday (Sept. 12) for Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon 2011 competition.

About 20 students also will leave for Washington that morning. They plan to start rebuilding the house on the National Mall's West Potomac Park at 11 p.m. Tuesday (Sept. 13). Eventually about 50 students and six faculty members will spend some time in Washington.

Since the spring, the house has been built, taken apart and rebuilt on a site north of Purdue West shopping center in preparation for the competition. It is being dismantled again before being placed on trucks.

Purdue was chosen in April 2010 to compete in the Solar Decathlon 2011. The 19 teams, including four from outside the United States, are designing, building and operating affordable, attractive and energy-efficient solar-powered homes. The houses will be open for public tours in Washington from Sept. 23 through Oct. 2. The winner will be announced Oct. 1.

Work on the house began in fall 2009. It has involved more than 200 students from six colleges and schools: Technology, Engineering, Liberal Arts, Agriculture, Krannert, and Health and Human Sciences.

According to DOE competition rules, the house must be net-zero for energy consumption, which means it must produce at least as much energy as it uses. A team will be penalized if a house appraises for more than $250,000. The house also must not be more than 1,000 square feet, not including the garage. Purdue's two-bedroom, one-bath house is 984 square feet. It features an open-plan kitchen-living-dining area and has a utility room.

The solar houses will be judged in 10 areas: architecture, market appeal, engineering, communications, affordability, comfort zone, hot water, appliances, home entertainment and energy balance.

DOE provides $100,000 to each team, but the costs, including construction, moving the house to Washington and back, and housing the team in Washington, are expected to approach $700,000. A fundraising campaign continues. Donations may be made through the INhome website at

The website also has information on the Purdue team in Washington, the house and sponsors. While the team is in Washington, the site also will feature a blog.

More information on Solar Decathlon 2011 is available at http://www/

Writer: Judith Barra Austin, 765-494-2432,  

Source: McKenna Regan, head of marketing and communications for INhome, 574-274-4249,

Note to Journalists: Media wanting to contact any of the students in Washington, D.C., can contact McKenna Regan at 574-274-4249,

Broadcast-quality video of solar house construction and finished interiors is available at For more information, contact Jim Schenke, Purdue News Service, at 765-237-7296,