RSC’s September Explorations Field Trip took us to the Pepco WaterShed Sustainability Center, with a tour of the beautiful and energy-efficient WaterShed home, winner of the 2011 national Solar Decathlon, which challenges collegiate teams to design and build full-size, solar-powered homes that push the limits of innovation. The winner of the competition is the team that best blends design excellence and smart energy production with innovation, market appeal, and energy and water efficiency. At the time of this writing, the WaterShed, designed by a team from University of Maryland, is still the highest-scoring model from all years of the competition.

Our tour was led by Scott Tjaden, one of the original designers of the WaterShed. The house integrates a lovely natural pond and wetland environment outside with rooftop water filtering and indoor water and energy efficiency.

WaterShed Green Roof

WaterShed’s half green/half solar-paneled butterfly roof provides both filtering of rainwater and 9kW of electricity for the house.

WaterShed shower

Inside the home, the shower (with a gorgeous view) drains directly into the wetlands outside, encouraging the use of environmentally friendly shower products.

WaterShed main living area

The main living area features another beautiful view, energy-efficient and cost effective light panels in the wall, and a modular table that can be configured in a variety of ways.

Reconfigurable bed

Another space-saving feature we loved is the table that converts to a bed in the bedroom.

High R value insulation

Very good insulation (R-54 through the roof; R-48 through the wall) keeps energy costs low.

Anti-collision dots

Visible dots on the glass keep birds from colliding with windows & doors. These are also available in a form that is visible to birds but invisible to humans.

EV Charging Port

Next to the house is an electric vehicle charging port, with green walls, a level 2 charger, and a 2.1kW solar array on top.

Thanks to Scott for the very enlightening tour of the WaterShed, and to Bob Erdman and Scott Wilson from EVA-DC for bringing your Tesla and Kia Soul electric vehicles for us to see.

– Writeup and photos (except the feature image, which is courtesy of Pepco) by Helen Triolo