Before there was a Solar Village on campus, there was a sole villager. Allison Arnn graduated in 2005 with an engineering management degree. A member of the university’s very first Solar House Design Team, Arnn spent her senior year living in the house the team designed and built for the 2002 Solar Decathlon, a U.S. Department of Energy-sponsored design competition. As the first occupant of an S&T student-built solar home, Arnn covered rent, water and sewage, but didn’t have to worry about an electric bill. “It is a welcome relief” to have one less bill to pay, she said. “And it is such a unique opportunity. How many college students can tell people they lived in a solar house while they attended school?”

Several students – and even faculty – have followed in Arnn’s footsteps by taking up solar living in S&T’s Solar Village, which now consists of four student-designed homes, and a “solar suburb” of sorts, the EcoVillage, which contains two solar homes. Both villages are equipped microgrids, where researchers can study the impact of living in a home fueled by alternative energy.

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