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

August 24, 2011

Solar Decathlon Team Leading the Way toward Sustainable Living Even in Disasters

For the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is returning to the National Mall with the Re_home, which offers a more sustainable housing solution for communities following natural disasters. According to team members—who are aiming for a balance between good design and smart planning—the Re_home responds to the physical and emotional needs of displaced families while still demonstrating the ways in which environmentally aware living can be incorporated into a community-led recovery effort.

What makes the Re_home different from previous disaster relief housing is the flexibility of the home's design. The Re-Home is more adaptable to the various lifestyles of disaster victims when compared to the typical mobile home style trailer commonly used in today's disaster relief efforts. The Re_home offers an efficient and open floor plan that accommodates the various needs of many users. The floor plan was designed around one open area for public spaces and another area, enclosed, for private spaces, which encourages an open interaction between both interior and exterior spaces. This "flex space" allows the house to transition between one- and two-bedroom homes, and gives occupants several ways to customize the space to their liking. See the Energy Blog post.