The University of Maryland's award-winning "green" house, WaterShed, has found a permanent home. Pepco, the Washington area's electric utility, has agreed to buy the solar-powered dwelling and plans to put it on permanent display as both a "living classroom" and an energy testing laboratory, the university announced Monday.
Designed and built by a team of students, faculty and professional partners, WaterShed won the Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon last October, besting solar homes put together by teams from 19 other colleges and universities from around the world. The home was disassembled and shipped back to College Park after the National Mall competition ended, and has been sitting in storage while the university sought a second act for it.
UM's high-tech residence not only drew its power from the sun, it was designed to capture storm runoff, a significant source of Chesapeake Bay pollution, and recycle water. One of its more striking features was an indoor waterfall meant to provide humidity control.
The company plans to use it for conferences, educational presentations and occasional tours, and it intends to add a few bells and whistles of its own, such as "smart" thermostats and an electric-vehicle charging station.
For reasons not explained in the university's press release announcing the sale, the price Pepco paid was not disclosed. The announcement said the company would be covering WaterShed's outstanding project costs and paying for the home's transportation and reassembly on a site Pepco has yet to determine.
Under the deal, university students apparently are to serve as docents explaining the building's design and operations to visitors. The announcement doesn't explain whether they'll be compensated somehow for that service, either.