Solar Decathlon’s SURE HOUSE to Become Emergency Management Center

The SURE HOUSE is a house that is being built to be both SUstainable and REsilient to extreme weather in areas that are at high risk. The SURE HOUSE is being developed by The Stevens Institute of Technology and will be entered into the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2015. The contest will be held in Irvine, California in the fall, after which the home will be shipped to the Jersey Shore where it will be set up to serve as an emergency management and coastal resiliency center.

U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon is a competition that challenges collegiate teams to design and build homes that are affordable, energy efficient, and attractive. The competition is held every two years; this year the event will take place over two weeks: from October 8th-11th from 11 am to 7 pm and from October 15th-18th, also from 11 am to 7 pm. The contest will be held at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine. The Solar Decathlon is open to the public free of charge.


The SURE HOUSE is being crafted by The Stevens Institute of Technology team as part of an ongoing effort to devise new ways to build homes that can withstand severe weather while remaining sustainable and energy efficient. The SURE HOUSE’s permanent location on the Jersey Shore is strategic, as the area suffered massive devastation in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

If future homes in the coastal New Jersey area are built using the concepts developed for the SURE HOUSE, the homes will suffer less damage in the event of storms and floods, minimizing the need for cleanup and rebuilding efforts. The homes will also put out a lower quantity of greenhouse gases, helping to mitigate climate change.


The SURE HOUSE will be designed to use 90 percent less energy than average homes, be powered completely by solar energy that is collected using solar panels, act as an energy hub in the event of neighborhood power losses and be resilient to storms. The home will be built using fiber composite materials repurposed from the boat building industry that is resistant to water damage. The home will be built in the style of a 1960’s beach house.

Smart Features

Every feature of the SURE HOUSE is strategically designed to contribute to its purpose. The building envelope is tightly sealed and the insulation is thick so that the home needs less energy to stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Fiber composite storm shutters help to protect the home from flying debris and impact during storms and serve double duty in helping to shade the windows from the sun’s rays to keep solar gains from heating the home when unwanted.

Ventilation System

Since the insulation and the tight building envelope will reduce airflow leakage, it is necessary to have an excellent ventilation system in place to maintain high air quality within the home. An ERV, or Energy Recovery Ventilation system, will be used to keep the air as healthy and comfortable as possible while using as little energy as possible.