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2015 Solar Decathlon: Indigo Pine

Clemson University

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U.S. Department of Energy


  • Project Leaders: Alex Latham, Alison Martin, Allie Beck, Anthony Wohlers, Clair Dias, Dan Harding, Dave Pastre, Dustin Albright, Ed Hoegg, Eric Balogh, Jeff Hammer, Jon Pennington, Michael Stoner, Neely Leslie, Tyler Silvers, Ulrike Heine, Vincent Blouin, Justin Hamrick, Will Hinkley, Kindall Stephens

Project Status

Student Work


1,000 sq. feet
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Project Description


Comprising members from each of Clemson University’s five colleges, along with dedicated faculty members, the Indigo Pine team is pleased to participate in this Fall’s U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon competition. Team Clemson has titled its three-bedroom, 1000-square-foot solar-powered house Indigo Pine. The name stems from the home’s Southern roots and two important cash crops in South Carolina’s history whose defining characteristics of vibrancy (Indigo) and utility (Pine) parallel our aspirations for this house. The Indigo Pine house stitches together innovative building methods, creative material selections and Southern charm, all in a home designed for a family of four.

The design of Indigo Pine was governed, first and foremost, by a central idea. Conceptually, the house leverages front-end ingenuity and fabrication technology in service of smarter, easier and safer construction that is also more accurate, more affordable, and more sustainable. Looking beyond the house itself, the team aimed to design a system and a new way of thinking about building.

To this end, the structural system of the Indigo Pine house utilizes CNC-cut plywood components. These lightweight components interlock to create a highly intelligent structure using only wood joinery and stainless steel zip ties, in lieu of nails. This system, named Sim[PLY], allows Indigo Pine to be built virtually anywhere a CNC router is available using off-the-shelf materials and handheld tools. The Sim[PLY] system offers high quality control and rapid on-site construction, and can be assembled by essentially anyone using easy-to-follow pictographic instructions.

Inside the house, Indigo Pine utilizes integrated cabinetry in place of standard partition walls to provide maximum functionality while also dividing rooms. Whether playing host to the kitchen appliances, or to closet storage in the bedrooms, the cabinets maximize every square inch of floor space in the Indigo Pine house. Because the structural framework of Indigo Pine was designed to span the entire house, there is no need for interior load-bearing elements. For this reason, the cabinetry walls are free and flexible to be moved, rearranged, or replaced.  This is important for a family, whose needs evolve over time. Our target home buyers value functionality, flexibility and the potential for customization.  Indigo Pine’s unique cabinet wall system provides each of these qualities.

Other unique features of the house include its folded aluminum composite siding system and its thermal mass foundation. All in all, Team Clemson will construct not one but two versions of Indigo Pine, the first (Indigo Pine East) in the South Carolina Botanical Gardens and the other (Indigo Pine West) in California for the competition. This will allow for detailed testing of the house’s systems and will showcase Indigo Pine’s ability to be assembled and adapted anywhere.

Without the support of the Indigo Pine family of donors and volunteers, the team would not be able to pursue its dream of seeing the house come to life. To see the full list of Indigo Pine sponsors and learn more about the project, please visit our website. Team Clemson and the entire Indigo Pine family have joined to create a revolutionary home that will serve not only as a viable competitor this fall, but also as a touch-point for innovative design and construction research on Clemson’s campus for many years to come.

The project is funded in part by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), U.S. Department of Energy, under Award Number DE-. EE0006559. 

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