Stevens Institute of Technology SU+RE House Passive House Wins Solar Decathlon 2015

Congratulations to our local Solar Decathlon Team at Stevens Institute of Technology for their award-winning project the SU+RE House – combining SUstainble + REsilient architecture practices to withstand the risks of storms and rising sea levels.  The team came in first place yesterday (October 18, 2015) out of a total of 14 competitors in this year’s competition.  The two local teams–SU+RE House from the Stevens Institute of Technology and DURA Home from New York City College of Technology–were the only teams to employ Passive House principles, a sure sign that New York and New Jersey are paving the way for Passive House in the USA!

Stevens Solar Decathlon 2015 House Rendering: North Elevation(From Stevens Institute of Technology started with a simple question when preparing for the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2015: “How can we design a home that both reduces energy use and adapts to the realities of a changing, more extreme climate?” The answer is the SURE (sustainable + resilient) HOUSE, a high-performance, solar-powered house that is armored against extreme weather and can provide emergency power in the aftermath of a storm—packaged as a comfortable, beautiful shore house.


The storm surge, high winds, and flooding associated with 2012’s Superstorm Sandy highlighted the vulnerability of Mid-Atlantic shore neighborhoods. The SURE HOUSE therefore began with a simple idea: create a low-energy, solar-powered, storm-resilient home for vulnerable coastal communities. The notion of the “shore house” resulted in a focus on indoor-outdoor spaces, and through a simple design transformation, the SURE HOUSE doubles its usable space in the summer months by opening up to the outdoor decks. This outdoor living room complements a contemporary interior that draws on natural daylight and flexible living space to create an inviting family home.

The SURE HOUSE is based on three principles: use less energy through smart design, generate all energy needed through renewable solar electric, and be capable of providing power during electrical outages.


An “islanding” PV array produces energy even when the utility grid is damaged or disconnected, powering the house and allowing neighbors to charge their electronic devices via exterior USBs.

The SURE HOUSE exceeds Passive House standards for energy use through the use of dense insulation, rigorous air sealing, smart construction techniques, and high-performance windows.

Architecturally integrated, fiber-composite shutters on the southern façade provide passive solar control and house integrated PV panels when up and lock into the structure with a watertight seal when down.

A hybrid heat pump hot water tank accepts DC power directly from the PV system to allow it to function without grid power.


A storm-rugged PV system supplies power when in the grid is down without the use of batteries.

Working with local topography such as dunes, the SURE HOUSE can be raised slightly to avoid periodic nuisance flooding and encapsulate vital building systems in a storm-resistant shell.

Thick insulation and rigorous air-sealing mean the SURE HOUSE is less sensitive to outdoor temperature swings and remains clean, safe, healthy, and comfortable inside.

Visit for more informationStevens Solar Decathlon 2015 House Rendering: South SU+RE