InSite: Solar Powered Home Made from Local Materials

To support a growing population in an age of climate change and dwindling natural resources, it will be increasingly necessary to approach housing with an eye on both affordability and sustainability. This concept by students at Middlebury College offers an intriguing option for suburban living, with a green roof and a large array of solar panels.

The InSite solar home concept not only runs on solar power, but is also made from local materials, including floors milled from maple trees felled within ten miles of the college campus. It features a reclaimed barnwood exterior, with insulation made of natural cellulose. A prototype of the house will be built on the Middlebury campus in Vermont.

The home consists of three distinct forms: the public space, the private space and the ‘chimney core’, which contains all of the mechanical systems for the home, like energy and water. Rather than placing the solar panels on the roof, the design team created a ‘solar path’ passing along the southern-facing side of the lot, creating a pedestrian connection between the town and the campus, encouraging walkability.

The design of the home is inspired by vernacular Vermont architecture as well as the other homes on the street where it will be located. It will be entered into this year’s Solar Decathlon competition, which challenges colleges and universities to design and construct solar-powered houses.