Empowerhouse is the result of a community-based approach to building affordable, site net-zero housing that addresses all aspects of domestic life.


A rendering of Empowerhouse in its final stage in Deanwood

A rendering of Empowerhouse in its final stage in Deanwood

The Front porch has historically been an integral part of American culture, and the tradition is still thriving today in Deanwood. Serving as a transitional space between the private family world and the public realm of the street, it is a place where neighbors can interact and build a strong community. Empowerhouse contributes to this important tradition and emphasizes the front porch in its design.

In order to enhance the experience of the porch, the home informs three faces: the front porch opens to the street, the private back porch looks toward the garden and a light loft faces the sky bringing natural light into the center of the home.

Empowerhouse goes beyond the challenge of designing an energy-independent home and fosters a whole-life approach to sustainability to include food, water and clothing.

Our house empowers the homeowner with the ability to grow their own produce. Planters are designed for growing fruits and vegetables, promoting a healthy diet, and saving the family the cost of buying produce.

The house is equipped with a rain garden that collects and filters storm-water from the roof for use in the gardens. This system minimizes the amount of potable city water used for irrigation, as well as reducing the water that is drained into the public sewer system.

Interior design students selected sustainable, affordable furnishings and fittings with an eye toward the character of the neighborhood. A modular furniture system was developed and a prototype urban cargo bike is on display and will be provided to residents.

A worm bin is an excellent way to compost in an urban environment. The result of the breakdown of organic matter by worms is used to enrich the soil and enhance plant growth. We have a worm bin in the house now, composting our organic waste.

Empowerhouse students in the disciplines of Product Design, Design and Technology, and Fashion Design at Parsons have designed furnishings, clothing and other elements of the home that will create a healthy environment and contribute to the quality of life. Clothing was designed from highly sustainable materials using zero waste techniques and a prototype urban cargo bike is on display and will be provided to residents after the competition.