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January 28, 2008

A Solar Home on Long Island

Filed under: Sustainable Long Island by Bill @ 6:03 am

solar home smallI received a letter Frank Mruk, the associate dean for the School of Architecture and Design at New York Institute of Technology, asking for help finding a permanent Long Island location for OPEN House, a solar/geothermal home built by his students at NYIT.

The home was constructed as their 2007 entry in the Department of Energy’s annual Solar Decathlon and took 12th place coming in ahead of MIT and Cornell.

Back in the late 70’s I remember gas lines and countless magazine articles about the rapid development of alternative energy sources, solar seeming the most promising. Yet here we are almost half a century later and nothing has changed. We’re still burning fossil fuels like mad. It’s like we’ve learned nothing from that horrible experience.

OPEN House, constructed by the students at NYIT
Deriving all of it’s energy needs from the sun, OPEN House is both efficient and beautiful

Coincidently, a 2 hour special about oil was broadcast on the History Channel last night. “Crude” featured several prominent oil geologists whose calculations show that oil production has peaked and will now begin a slow, but steady decline. This sounds like hype, but it isn’t. Barring any significant new discoveries we will see a steady decline in production and a corresponding increase in energy prices.

So it’s nice to see Long Islanders like Frank and his students developing alternative energy sources into something we can actually use. OPEN House, is not only fully energy independent, but also captures enough solar energy to power an electric car, and is both “attractive and affordable enough for mainstream America.”

Frank writes:

Currently the house is back in Old Westbury and looking for a long term home. The school has been considering many options including proposals from many towns and private individuals both on Long Island and across the country.

To the NYIT students, the competition had a very specific mission to support the advancement of alternative and renewable energy solutions, promote a green, clean and sustainable environment and to communicate the viability of solar technology to the public on Long Island and around the world.

The students believe the best way to achieve their mission is to use the house to fund the next iteration of the competition.

The next phase of the competition is currently scheduled for October 2009. The institute plans to make a decision on the final site for the home by February 2008.

He also notes that a good location for the home might be in one of Long Island’s vineyards–Perhaps a small plot sale/lease situation where both NYIT and the vineyard can use the home for events.

Any inquires can be directed to:
Frank Mruk AIA, RIBA
Associate Dean
New York Institute of Architecture
School of Architecture and Design
fmruk (at)

For more information about solar energy on Long Island see:

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