Feature: Empowered House

Empowerhouse_Ext 2_Martin Seck

From gb&d January/February 2014

Deanwood has long been defined by self-reliance and resilience, a shelter in the slow march toward justice.

In the eastern corner of Washington, DC, land that once grew tobacco was tilled first by slaves and then again by free African Americans who sought four walls and a roof. During the postbellum era, the community was a haven from prejudice; later, it was the stomping ground and stage for influential agents of change such as Marvin Gaye and Martin Luther King Jr.

Poised to continue this tradition, the neighborhood is the fitting location of a project that, less than a year after completion, is inspiring new attitudes toward affordable housing and sustainable design and has sparked further discussion on the viability of Passive House in the United States. From the minds of students competing in the Solar Decathlon to the blueprints of housing authorities and nonprofit developers, people are looking to Deanwood and the aptly named Empowerhouse as a model for affordable, net-zero-energy homes …

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