Welcome To The SURE House

Students Respond to Climate Change
innovative super-insulated building envelope

SURE about what?

We’ve all gotten the memo: climate change is real and it’s happening. That means we have to adapt to it while working to fix it. Our contribution to the cause is the SURE HOUSE, a SUstainable and REsilient prototype representing a new direction in coastal housing.

SUstainable SURE

To us, sustainability basically means doing something in such a way that it can be repeated. Right now our human machine isn’t sustainable fundamentally due to carbon emissions. There are lots of other interesting challenges, but carbon reduction is the front line. Since the source is burning fossil fuels to produce energy, our approach to sustainability is aggressive energy efficiency to reduce loads and innovative renewable energy systems to meet demands. The SURE House is designed to use only 10% of the energy a comparable code-built house consumes and to produce all of that energy itself on site. No carbon offsets or “green-power” programs. This is straight up energy production for direct use.

REsilient SURE

Resilience to us is about creating a system that both absorbs and adapts to change. The SURE HOUSE is designed to absorb extreme weather through its primarily passive approach to comfort. Insulation, air tightness, and high performance windows are integrated with the mechanical system to create a building that absorbs climate extremes without huge increases in energy use. At the same time, the SURE HOUSE adapts to storms through movable parts that morph from shades to shutters and a solar electric (PV) generation system that, even though grid tied, continues producing power when the grid is down. This allows the house to become a community power hub in the event that the municipal infrastructure fails.

deployable flood/storm shutters

Comfort for SURE?

Hey, we’re talking about the beach here, so we made sure that all of this geeky tech comes in a package designed for comfort. Luckily, the open floor plan and indoor/outdoor rooms of the quintessential 60’s style modern beach house already work with the local climate to create comfort efficiently. We think our version just enhances the original. Judge for yourself.

1,000 square foot living space flowing to exterior deck


The SURE HOUSE is Stevens Institute of Technology‘s entry in the 2015 Solar Decathlon. The Solar Decathlon is a competition put on by the US Department of Energy every 2 years in which 20 student teams from universities around the world are chosen to design, build, transport, and operate an innovative, marketable, affordable, solar-powered house. There are 10 contests, both juried and measured, that take place while all the houses are on display and being toured by the public. If that sounds ridiculously hard, it is. Luckily, this is SIT’s third consecutive Solar Decathlon entry, so we know what we’re getting into. We are really passionate about this project and want to share it with you. Over the next 10 months, we’ll chronicle our progress here at SURE HOUSE and hope you’ll check back often to see what’s up.

We’re SURE, are you?

This is the official blog of the SURE HOUSE, a Stevens Institute of Technology student project, hosted here by Popular Science. Please let us know what you think. If there’s an aspect of the project you want to know more about, we want to hear from you. This is what we are eating, drinking, and sleeping for the next year, so we’re always excited to share. For more info on all things SURE HOUSE, visit our website.