Team Capitol DC Builds the Harvest Home

The Catholic University of America, George Washington University and American University combined their talents to create the Harvest Home for this year’s Solar Decathlon.  The home was donated to the Wounded Warrior Homes program that serves returning U.S. military veterans. 

Southern facing side of Harvest Home.

The sleek Harvest Home is being donated to serve and house returning veterans.

They received 1st place in Energy Balance by making more solar energy than they needed or used.  They also received 2nd place in Comfort Zone, Appliances and Home Entertainment.  The overall cost of the house with the energy system and all the appliances was $280,952.

Besides being donated to a cool cause, this team had another standout feature on the deck.  They had a beautiful outdoor dining table that featured running water surrounded by edible plants.  The team also secured a 2nd place finish in the Entertainment category.

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, baking mini-tarts with multi-course meals and leaving the lights on. It’s all powered by the sun. Here are the Dinner Menus and Recipes from Team Capitol DC. (16 pg pdf with a nice recipe for Kale Mac and Cheese with Sundried Tomatoes.)


Photo Gallery

I took the opportunity to see the homes while they were open to the public. Click or tap on an image to see it in a larger format. Click or tap the right side of the image to view the next image.



  • Reclaimed and recycled materials compose the wall framing, exterior decking, rain screen, interior flooring, and furniture.
  • Integrated landscaping balances edible and native plants and blurs the interior and exterior environments to create a healthy and beautiful space.
  • Careful attention to natural ventilation enables the house to capture breezes, creating a comfortable environment with abundant fresh air.
  • A greywater collection system harvests rainwater and reuses it for landscaping to nurture the edible garden.
  • Through a distributed network of activity sensors, the biomedical suite takes measurements unobtrusively to provide physical-therapy data and analyze the living habits of the homeowner.


  • PV and flat-plate solar thermal systems produce electricity for the house and heat the domestic hot water.
  • A unique under-floor heating and cooling distribution system supplies air at floor-level from ductwork connected to a central air handler located in the mechanical closet, allowing less stale air to be mixed with the fresh air and enabling the air handler to work more efficiently.
  • An interactive and adaptable shading screen on the large southern glazed façade passively improves energy performance in response to the exterior climate conditions.
  • The smart home management system not only monitors and tracks the energy used and saved but also adapts to the occupant’s lifestyle—with minimal effort on the occupant’s behalf.

Final Overall Scores

The team finished in 7th place with a total of 920.267 points.

The team finished in 7th place with a total of 920.267 points.

The final score is a summation of task completion, monitored performance of the homes and jury evaluations within 10 events.

After telling us about the house, they listed to all our questions and answered them.

After telling us about the house, they listed to all our questions and answered them.

All of the teams achieved a lot 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.

Features and technologies sections from

Visit the team’s website:

Keya Lea

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

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.