Based at Catholic University in Washington, D.C., Team Capitol DC’s project for the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2013 Solar Decathlon, Harvest House, aims to harness natural resources to provide a comfortable home for a wounded warrior.

Team Capitol DC brings together students from three local universities—Catholic University of America (CUA), American University (AU), and George Washington University (GWU)—each of which focuses on an area of the project according to specialty. Students from CUA’s School of Architecture and Planning join forces with peers from AU’s School of Communication, while GWU students from the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the Landscape Design Program, and Interior Design Program round out the available expertise for the team.

As part of the team’s schedule, students will build, disassemble, and rebuild the Harvest House several times before transporting the components to the 2013 Solar Decathlon contest site in Irvine, Calif., where they will rebuild it for the last time. Following the contest, Team Capitol DC will donate Harvest House to a veteran of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The first round of construction should be completed by the end of May, after which the students will reconstruct Harvest House to run the tests required by the Solar Decathlon competition, which measure energy use, appliance efficiency, and other energy-related criteria.

Keys to Team Capitol DC’s competition strategy include a louvered screening system that senses heat, and self-adjusts to block solar gain, as well as a fully hyrdonic system for heating and cooling. Reclaimed wood pieces make up the exterior cladding.

For more information on Team Capitol DC's Harvest House, please visit For more information on the U.S. Department of Energy's 2013 Solar Decathlon, please visit EcoStructure was on hand to witness parts of Team Capitol DC’s construction, and produced the following video of students explaining Harvest House strategies: