Middlebury College Designs InSite

Middlebury College returns to the Solar Decathlon with the InSite House after participating in the 2011 Solar Decathlon with Self-Reliance. The team moved the photovoltaic panels off the roof and into the main socializing area, making a nice, shaded space to congregate and relax in. 

The Middlebury InSite house features a nice southern facing shaded area.

The Middlebury InSite house featured a nice southern facing shaded area.

This year Middlebury tied for 1st place in the Hot Water category and was awarded 3rd place in Communications, Affordability and Home Entertainment.  The overall cost of the house with the energy system and all the appliances was $263,083.

The InSite home featured a green roof that managed water runoff, helped to insulate the home, and helped to manage storm water runoff.

The Solar Decathlon truly tests a home’s performance.  In order to receive a score in the Entertainment event, each team must host two dinner parties and screen an accompanying film.  This tests the home’s general electrical systems and the combined efficiency of the appliances. They aren’t sitting around saving electricity and using candles.  They’re watching films on large screen TVs, making multi-course meals and leaving the lights on.  It’s all powered by the sun.  Here are the Dinner Menus and Recipes from Middlebury College (8.7 mb, 12 page pdf).


Photo Gallery

The entry into the house through the “Solar Path” proved the space to be a welcoming, intuitive means to enter the home.  Click or tap on an image to see it larger. Click or tap the right side of the image to view the next image.


  • Reclaimed wood materials come from the local region and are historically suited to the local climate.
  • An exterior solar path replaces the traditional rooftop array to create an exterior walkway shaded by solar panels.
  • A lush green roof contributes to the thermal envelope of the house, sequesters carbon, and helps manage storm-water runoff.
  • A north-sloping roof minimizes exposure to Vermont’s cold Northern winter winds.
  • A steel skeleton with exposed connections visible in the interior educates visitors about the unique construction.
  • Thick and densely insulated walls with a dining nook and a window seat create a comfortable refuge for nature viewing.



  • A centralized energy hearth mechanical chimney consolidates the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems into one modular unit to increase efficiency while reducing the wiring, ductwork, and piping required.
  • Windows and vents placed high in the mechanical module create a chimney effect for unwanted hot air, while vents placed low on the shaded north side allow cool air to enter and flow through the house on hot days.
  • The energy-recovery ventilator uses stale, outgoing air to dry and condition incoming air, providing ventilation without releasing the conditioned air.
  • The building-monitoring system allows residents to visualize their energy use and better understand the environmental impacts of their lifestyle.


The final score for Middlebury. They finished in 8th place with a total of 920.262 points.

The final score for Middlebury. They finished in 8th place with a total of 920.262 points.



A student from Middlebury gives a short lesson on the Solar Decathlon home to the visiting students.

All of the teams achieved great accomplishments in the Solar Decathlon to design, build, finish, dismantle, transport, rebuild, compete in the competition and display the homes (with a smile, over and over and over again) to help educate the public. They all had amazing, sometimes arduous, yet highly educational and rewarding experiences. The final score is a summation of task completion, monitored performance of the homes and jury evaluations (three esteemed people) within 10 events.

Features and technologies sections from solardecathlon.gov.

Visit the team’s website: http://sd13.middlebury.edu



Keya Lea

Keya Lea likes to spend time outside, enjoying the sun.

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