Local residents and community leaders are key participants in the development of the Empowerhouse. The Empowerhouse team is excited to be working with the Deanwood community, one of the greenest communities in Washington, DC.

Deanwood Community Garden

Deanwood Community Garden

Our Community in Deanwood, Washington DC

The Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon is a competition that challenges 20 collegiate teams to design and build a cutting-edge sustainable house. Held every two years since 2002 on the National Mall in Washington, the competition draws throngs of visitors during its ten-day run. The houses though are typically then transported across the country or around the world and then back to the schools where they were built. This time around we, the Empowerhouse team (comprising of students from Parsons The New School for Design, Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy, and the Stevens Institute of Technology) together with Habitat for Humanity of Washington, D.C., and the D.C. Department of Housing and Urban Development, are turning our demonstration house into a permanent, two-family home in Deanwood. Following our completion, Habitat for Humanity plans to sell both units as affordable housing to Deanwood community members. Greater Deanwood is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Washington D.C. and has a rich history of community activism. Deanwood is notable for its small-town character, with wood-frame and brick homes that date from the early 20th century.

Several well-known African-American architects, including W. Sidney Pittman and Howard D. Woodson, and many skilled local craftsmen designed and built its homes. As one of the greenest neighborhoods in D.C., residents recently participated in the CarbonFree DC "Extreme Green Neighborhood Makeover," which retrofitted low and moderate-income homes. Deanwood and its surrounding neighborhoods are undergoing a powerful revitalization with economic development and environmental sustainability as key components of the resurgence. The Empowerhouse project will lend strength to continued efforts to make Deanwood a more sustainable community. The relationship built with Deanwood via the Solar Decathlon has resulted in the development of "outside the competition" projects, as the capacity to make a deeper impact in the community beyond the houses was realized. These initiatives are showcased here. We look forward to comments, questions, and feedback, and look forward to any requests for involvement.

Deanwood Initiatives

Learning Garden: The partnership envisions the garden as a venue where the community congregates to work together at creating a sustainable environment. The open space is for all people to use as a place to gather, celebrate, educate, learn, and connect the senses.Up to-date garden plans can be seen at this tumblr blog.

Lederer Youth Garden: Check back soon for information on Initiatives involving the Lederer Youth Garden!

Deanwood Community

Deanwood Community Garden


Workshop Series: The Save Energy, Save Money Workshops- Greening Greater Deanwood workshop series has begun! The workshops provide a forum for interaction on green living topics, as well as expert advice on how to reduce your environmental footprint while saving money. Workshop leaders will include locally and nationally renowned professionals in the field of sustainable development and green living. Each workshop consists of leaders focusing on the immediate steps participants can take to move towards sustainability with regard to a specific topic.

The first two workshops of the series were a great success, thanks to our wonderful presenters, who generously shared their knowledge and expertise with us, and the participants who traveled and actively engaged in workshop activities. Check back here for up to date information for future dates and speakers, as the workshops will continue through the summer! Admission is free, and open to the public. Light refreshments are served.

Past Workshops:

  • April 2nd: The “Green Ward, Green Life” with Lisa Crawford, President of Capitol Business Solutions LLC
  • April 16th: Water Recycling & Smart Water Management with Dennis Chestnut, Executive Director of Groundworks Anacostia River, D.C. & Parsons The New School for Design
Energy Costs Chart

Energy costs chart


Deanwood & Empowerhouse Recipe Books: In conjunction with the Solar Decathlon competition, two recipe books are being created: one from Solar Decathlon members and the other will be from Deanwood community members. The Solar Decathlon book will comprise of recipes involving the herbs and vegetables that will be grown in the Lederer Gardens and will be used by the students living in the competition house.

We hope the Deanwood book will create a common interest point for community members as well as create a collection of recipes unique to Deanwood. Both books will be displayed in the competition house. For more information or questions please email Emily Kerns at kernsemily@gmail.com.

Deanwood Community Diagram

Deanwood Community Diagram

Get Involved

Internship: Garden-based learning will be tied in with the community garden projects being done at the new Learning Garden (Sheriff Road and 48th Street) and the established Lederer Youth Garden (4801 Nannie Helen Burroughs Avenue). The internship experience will focus on helping youth learn about themselves, while instilling a sense of commitment to their environment, sustainable living, and community activism. This also provides an opportunity for students to build a valuable set of skills that are important for future job

placement, such as team building, group decision-making, and time management. We envision this being done through fun and engaging learning activities. Jobs would include, and are certainly not limited to:

  • Preserving and canning fruits and vegetables at the Lederer Youth Garden to sell at the Farmers Market
  • Helping manage and organize future Workshop Series
  • Building the Learning Garden

For those who would like more information on how to apply, please contact Katie Wauchope at kaitlin.wauchope@empowerhouse-dc.org.

Volunteer Opportunities: There are currently volunteer opportunities at the Learning Garden, Habitat for Humanity, Workshop Series, and the Lederer Youth Garden. For those who would like more information on volunteer opportunities, please contact Katie Wauchope at kaitlin.wauchope@empowerhouse-dc.org.