Research and Projects

  • Project,Story,Custom

    Empower a House


    A bright idea illuminates the world like a porch light in the night.

    At Parsons School of Design and the Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy, students developed designs for innovative sustainable homes. This diverse, audacious team designed and built a home so sustainable, so efficient, so affordable that its annual energy cost is zero. Self-irrigating gardens grow a lush perimeter around the house, nourishing the family within and demonstrating to neighbors the virtues of conscious eating and the simple rapture of slicing a tomato picked fresh from the vine. At The New School, where innovation is key, ideas are solar-powered lights — cutting through ink-black convention and overturning the status quo.

    EmpoweraHouse Inset

    Winner of the Affordability Category in the 2011 U.S. DOE Solar Decathlon, Empowerhouse is a multidisciplinary, community-based approach to sustainable urban development. In line with The New School’s dedication to change, students from Parsons and the Milano School combined resources to create and showcase sustainable solar-powered homes that were not only technologically groundbreaking —  but affordable.

    The team, along with community partners, then extended Empowerhouse past the immediate contest location of the Mall on Washington and into the low-income DC neighborhood of Deanwood, profoundly influencing local notions of cost-effective architectural design. The house’s intuitive interior lights turn on and off as one enters and exits a room. Solar panels and heating and cooling systems work in tandem to efficiently produce as much energy as they consume. 

    Humanely designed interiors frame and nestle personal items to maximize space — and user well-being. Here, intellectual resources converge to defy traditional housing constraints and spotlight the future.

    The New School, with its commitment to cutting-edge technology and collaborative design, is a force of innovation, sustainability, and possibility. Be a Force of New.