Honey Creek Resort State Park to be home for ISU solar house

AMES/MORAVIA, Iowa -- After successfully competing in the U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., Iowa State University's student-designed and built solar house has found a permanent home: Honey Creek Resort State Park at Rathbun Lake in southern Iowa.

The Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources has purchased the 800-square-foot, energy-efficient, solar-powered Interlock House for use as an interpretive center at the park. Iowa State also will have access to the building for energy performance monitoring. During the Solar Decathlon competition, Oct. 9-18, the house produced more energy than it consumed. Researchers want to evaluate the building's performance for a longer period of time.

"At Honey Creek, our focus is on helping people enjoy the outdoors and appreciate the natural resources we have in Iowa," said Patricia Boddy, DNR deputy director. "The Interlock House will not only provide us with a place to do this but help interpret what it means to be a good steward of our resources. We are extremely grateful to Iowa State for this opportunity."

"We're so pleased that the DNR is able to make the Interlock House available to all Iowans, while allowing it to also be used for student research," said Elizabeth Hoffman, executive vice president and provost at Iowa State. "Showcasing the house at Honey Creek State Park is a tribute to the extraordinary work of very dedicated Iowa State students, faculty and staff."

More than 75 Iowa State students and 17 faculty from 11 departments worked nearly two years on the Solar Decathlon project under the leadership of Ulrike Passe, assistant professor of architecture. Iowa State was one of 20 select student teams from four countries that competed to design, construct and operate highly energy-efficient, completely solar-powered houses. After the houses were built on their respective campuses, they were dismantled, transported to Washington, D.C., and reassembled for the competition and public tours.

The teams were judged in 10 competitions. Iowa State placed 12th overall, 3rd place in marketability/livability/buildability, 4th in communications, 5th in engineering and 6th in net metering (the house was 6th best in producing more energy than it consumed). Iowa State's house was the only one in the competition that was entirely ADA accessible, employing universal design concepts.

The DNR is preparing a permanent foundation for the Interlock House to be placed in the next few weeks and an open house is planned for Earth Week, April 18-24, 2010. The house will accommodate numerous outdoor and environmental activities for visitors to the resort state park once installation is finalized next spring. Visit www.honeycreekresort.com for more information about classes and activities hosted at the Interlock House as well as other resort events and specials.