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KNOXVILLE — Team Living Light from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, will host a construction open house next week to celebrate progress made on the Living Light house.

Free and open to the public, the event will be from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 19, at the Design Build Annex, 3408 Henson Road, Knoxville.

The Living Light house is a functioning energy-efficient, solar-powered house that the group has designed for the Solar Decathlon 2011 competition.

Construction is nearing the halfway point. The floor and roof decks are complete and the walls are framed. The electrical and plumbing systems also have been roughed in.

“It is incredible to see how much the house changes each day,” said Amy Howard, a research specialist on the Living Light project. “You can now physically stand in the house and understand the size of the main volume of living space.”

The interior of the rectangular-shaped structure will be a large loft-like space with floor-to-ceiling glass panel walls, maximizing daylighting capabilities and opening it up to views of the landscape. A 10.9 kW solar array generates all power and provides shading for the home. Illumination, privacy and thermal comfort are controlled through an intuitive touch pad interface. This automation system even tracks energy usage and suggests changes to save money.

The interdisciplinary group of UT students and faculty—from the colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, and Engineering—has been working on the project since fall 2009 with an anticipated construction completion date of July 31. In late September, the team will begin readying the house for transportation to the competition in Washington, D.C., which will take place from September 23 to October 2 on the National Mall West Potomac Park, between the Jefferson Memorial and new Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.

Like the Olympic decathlon, the Solar Decathlon consists of ten contests, which are designed to gauge how well the houses perform and how livable and affordable they are. For example, in the Appliances Contest, teams earn points for refrigerating and freezing food, washing and drying laundry, and running the dishwasher. Teams are scored on how well they balance production and energy consumption.

For more information about the Living Light house and Solar Decathlon competition, visit


Amy Howard (678-878-8993,

Kristi Hintz (865-974-3993,