The LumenHaus structure, designed by Virginia Tech for the 2009 Solar Decathlon, demonstrates how pursuing net-zero energy use need not sacrifice design. It generates more power than it uses over the course of a year and adjusts to climatic changes and user needs with automated systems.

Jury: “The creative use of materials and the flexibility of its [the house’s] components quickly respond to changes in the environment. … The interior is cleverly designed with comfortable if compact spaces, compatible materials, and a rational and clear layout.”

Client: “There’s been a huge shift in architectural education. Design/build efforts like the Rural Studio [at Auburn University, in Alabama] and Studio 804 at Kansas [University of Kansas] started something that began to catch on at other schools. The Solar Decathlon got a lot of schools involved. … The architecture programs [also] began leading universities in collaborating. The LumenHaus team at one point had about 10 departments and four colleges working on it. It was led by the architects.” —Scott Poole, AIA, former director, Virginia Tech’s School of Architecture + Design