Media Advisory: UB solar home to see the light of day

An animation showing what the GRoW Home is expected to look like when completed. Credit: Duane Warren, Chris Osterhoudt, Nick Karl and Aaron Salva.

The ultra-efficient modern home — UB’s entry in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon contest — will be moved outside on July 29

Release Date: July 27, 2015 This content is archived.

House under construction.

The GRoW Home, pictured here in July, is under construction in a Tonawanda warehouse. The house’s main enclosed living spaces — two boxy modules — have been erected. On July 29, riggers will place these modules onto large dollies and wheel them outside of the warehouse, where building will continue. Credit: Zhi Ting Phua

Rendering of a solar house.
Rendering of a solar house at night.
Rendering of a solar house and it's covered outdoor garden area.
Rendering of a solar house, exterior view.

Renderings of what the GRoW Home will look like when completed. Credit: UB Solar Decathlon Architectural Design Studio, Spring 2015 (Instructor: Martha Bohm)

BUFFALO, N.Y. – University at Buffalo students and faculty have been working for months to build the GRoW Home, an ultra-efficient solar house that’s designed to generate twice the energy it consumes.

On Wednesday, July 29, the dwelling will see the light of day for the first time as riggers lift the partially built structure onto large, wheeled skates and move it in two pieces out of the Tonawanda warehouse where it is under construction.

In addition to observing a portion of the move, media will have the chance to view and photograph several pieces of furniture that architecture students designed and built in a graduate-level seminar. Each item — such as rolling, textured metal tables for planting food and a bench that doubles as a solar towel dryer — was crafted specifically to improve the efficiency and function of the house.

The July 29 move-out marks an important turning point as the GRoW Home project nears its conclusion.

The house's main enclosed living spaces have been erected, but with the structure outdoors, students will be able to begin work on key exterior features.

The remainder of July and August will see an intense period of construction during which the team will install a canopy of solar panels to power the residence. Students will also build the GRoWlarium, a 340-square-foot glass-enclosed sunroom that doubles as a greenhouse for growing food year-round.

The home will then be tested rigorously to see how much energy it uses and produces.

All of this must be done by September, when the GRoW Home and its furniture will be shipped to Irvine, California, for the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon, a prestigious biennial contest. UB is one of only 16 intercollegiate teams worldwide competing in this event, which takes place in October and promotes sustainability and energy-saving residential designs.

What: GRoW Home Move and Furniture Preview

When: Wednesday, July 29, at 10:15 a.m., rain or shine!

The GRoW Home is under construction, and reporters who attend will see the portion of the house that has been built: the structural core, which consists of two, boxy enclosed living modules (floor, ceiling and walls) that contain the kitchen, bedroom, bathroom and living room.

On July 29, riggers will use large forklifts to lift the two modules up onto oversized dollies. These sections will then be wheeled outdoors and placed outside the warehouse for continued construction and testing.

The move is expected to take several hours, and by 10:15 a.m., one of the home's two modules should be on a dolly, ready to be moved.

Student-built furniture designed especially for the GRoW Home will also be on view.

Key features of the residence that reporters will not see include a greenhouse and the house's canopy of solar panels. These components cannot be built until the home is moved outside.

Where: The Riverview Solar Technology Park, 600 Riverwalk Pkwy., Tonawanda, where Montante Solar has donated warehouse space for construction.

Directions: From Riverview Road in Tonawanda, turn onto Riverwalk Parkway, where you will see a group of solar panels. Follow Riverwalk Parkway until you see 600 on your left side. Turn into the parking lot and go around the building to the back. When you’re facing the back of the building, the warehouse housing the GRoW Home can be accessed through the last door on the right.

Who: Martha Bohm, the GRoW Home’s faculty advisor and UB assistant professor of architecture, will be on hand for interviews, along with students on the team.

Nicholas Rajkovich, assistant professor of architecture, will be available to show media several unique furniture items that his students designed and built through a seminar this spring.

Both Bohm and Rajkovich are members of RENEW (Research and Education in eNergy, Environment and Water), a Community of Excellence at UB that harnesses faculty strengths across disciplines to tackle complex environmental challenges.

About the GRoW Home: Led by the UB School of Architecture and Planning, the GRoW Home team includes the UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences; UB School of Management; UB College of Arts and Sciences; and Department of Landscape Architecture at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry.

GRoW stands for “Garden, Relax or Work,” in a nod to the many uses for the home, which embraces both the urban gardening culture of Buffalo and its four-season climate.

Design details:

The project gives students hands-on experience in construction, design and interdisciplinary teamwork, a skill that will help them succeed in future careers.

After the Solar Decathlon, GRoW Home is expected to return to Buffalo and become an energy education center for the community. Its permanent location has yet to be decided.

Sponsors: The project has received gifts from more than 300 individuals and organizations. Materials, services and cash have been donated from corporate partners, and the U.S. Department of Energy supplied seed funding.

Sponsors include LPCiminelli Inc., New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), Montante Solar, Alegria Fresh, ALP Steel Corporation Inc., Armstrong Pumps, ASHRAE Niagara Frontier Chapter, CannonDesign, Caplugs, Carlisle SynTec, D.V. Brown & Associates Inc., Davis-Ulmer Sprinkler Co. Inc., Ecology and Environment Inc., Euro-Wall, Fastenal, Frey Electric Construction Co. Inc., Gerster Solutions, Guard Contracting Corporation, H&V Sales Inc., Hamister Group Inc., Intigral Inc., Jameson Roofing Co. Inc., Kee Safety Inc., LaBella Associates PC, National Gypsum, Northeast Mechanical Inc., Parksite, Pella Corporation, Pittcon Industries, R-Control SIPs, Thermal Foams Inc., Rigidized Metals Corporation, S-5!, Schneider Electric, SolarCity, Stix Inc., TapeSolar, Watts Architecture & Engineering, Weather Analytics, Whirlpool and Whole Foods.

Media Contact Information

Charlotte Hsu is a former staff writer in University Communications. To contact UB's media relations staff, email or visit our list of current university media contacts.