This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

May 04, 2011

Team New Jersey's Beach House Approaches Sustainable Design from Different Angle

When it comes to picturing a beach house, you typically picture large windows to let in fresh air and sunlight or wide porches to connect the home to the outdoors. What probably doesn't come to mind is a home primarily made of precast concrete. However, U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011's Team New Jersey is doing exactly that—incorporating the age-old technology of concrete into their beach house design. The team hopes to show others how a material often seen as cold or industrial can be used for residential applications.

The New Jersey Solar Decathlon team is a collaboration between two universities, Rutgers and the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT). "Rutgers is taking care of the engineering side of things and we're doing architecture. We're learning together how the whole process pans out," said NJIT student and project architect, Jordan Tait.

New Jersey is the first team in the Solar Decathlon competition to use precast concrete panels as their primary construction material. What is the reason? Jordan explains that several factors make concrete an ideal choice. For one, the panels are super insulated—comprised of insulation sandwiched between 3 and 4 inches of poured concrete on either side. See Energy Blog post.