Green Living From the Ground Up

President Knapp
GW President Steven Knapp traveled to California to view Team Capitol DC's Harvest Home.
October 16, 2013

“It’s not easy being green,” but that didn’t stop Team Capitol DC from embarking on a two-year project to build a sustainable home.

The group — which encompasses George Washington University, Catholic University and American University students and faculty — took the sustainable-living concept to new heights with its Harvest Home, becoming the first D.C.-area university team to participate in the Department of Energy’s prestigious Solar Decathlon. Still, the team wanted to do more, so it partnered with Wounded Warrior Homes, a California-based nonprofit organization that helps military veterans returning from combat to recuperate, to donate the home to a wounded military veteran.

At the final competition in Irvine, Calif., Team Capitol DC placed 7th out of 20 university teams from around the world. “We’re proud of the collaboration not only within GW, but also with our neighboring institutions,” said GW President Steven Knapp, who traveled to California to tour the structure. “Harvest Home demonstrates how our students harness their passion for changing the world through concrete, innovative projects, all while continuing to promote such university values as service and leadership.”

The idea of creating a “net-zero” structure, or one that harvests as much energy as it produces, isn’t new, and it’s a natural endeavor for a university that considers sustainability a cornerstone of its academics and research. With the knowledge that the house would be donated to a wounded U.S. military veteran, Team Capitol DC incorporated innovative design elements that will help create a healing environment for the occupant. This type of outreach is closely aligned with GW’s own priorities of fostering education opportunities for our Armed Services members.

In May, the university announced Operation GW VALOR, an interdisciplinary initiative that will provide increased flexibility and career support for veteran and military students and their dependents by emphasizing new and expanded academic opportunities, including online degree programs. The university is also a proud participant of the Yellow Ribbon Program, which funds veterans’ GW education.

Because the Harvest Home is meant to be used, students from GW’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, Interior Design Program and Landscape Design Program balanced cutting-edge green technology and functional design to ensure the structure’s maximized efficiency and practicality.

Team Capitol DC’s Harvest Home will make the world greener and a veteran’s life better, showcasing the very heart of GW spirit.