GRoW Home

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Published July 27, 2015


GRoW stands for Garden, Relax or Work. The house was designed and built for the 2015 Solar Decathlon, a prestigious international competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy that began in 2002 and has occurred every two years since 2005.

The interior is modern and comfortable.

The nearly 1,100-square-foot home produces 1.3 times more energy than it uses, an impressive feat considering one can do everything in the GRoW Home that would be done in a regular house, from preparing meals in the kitchen to watching television to washing and drying clothes, and showering.

Large glass ceiling room with a table full of plants.

Perhaps the GRoW Home’s most unique feature is the GRoWlarium, which allows food to be grown year-round, while buffering the house against cold winters and hot summers. In addition, three dozen solar panels top the roof. The walls and windows are highly insulated, and all of the lighting, appliances and mechanical equipment are super-efficient.

The GRoW Home has a full size bedroom.

Led by Martha Bohm and Nicholas Rajkovich, a team of students in the School of Architecture and Planning began designing the dwelling in 2013 in preparation for the next Solar Decathlon. At the 2015 event in Irvine, California, the GRoW Home won first place in three categories and took second place overall, just nine points behind the first-place winner from New Jersey’s Stevens Institute of Technology, which outspent UB by a 4-to-1 margin.

The GRoW home is complete with all conventional appliances.

The project has been touched by more than 400 students from 10 different departments at the university over the past five years. “These folks have brought us a gem that I think inspires new possibilities for the way we think about living life well in our communities,” Dean Robert Shibley says in thanking everyone involved.

The bulk of that effort occurred between 2013 and 2015 for the Solar Decathlon.

After the competition, the GRoW Home was disassembled and trucked back to Buffalo, where it sat in storage for a time while plans were finalized for rebuilding it and siting it behind Hayes Hall, a process that began in summer 2017.

House lit up at night through large greenhouse glass room.