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College students create futuristic solar-powered, smart home

College students display futuristic solar home design (CBS/CBS Newspath)
College students display futuristic solar home design (CBS/CBS Newspath)
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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CBS/CBS Newspath) - The Future of housing is on display in Alexandria, Virginia.

A team of Virginia Tech faculty and students created the FutureHAUS concept that won an international competition.

"This is absolutely the house of the future," says Joseph Wheeler, Co-Director of the Virginia Tech Center for Design Research. “We’d start with a kitchen and we'd make it smart. We'd start with a bathroom and we'd make it smart. We'd search for ideas that really work."

Last November, Joseph Wheeler of Virginia Tech's Center for Design Research and his team submitted their ideas to Dubai's Solar Decathlon competition for the best sustainable, solar-powered, smart home. The lone American team took the top prize, and now the team wants to take its ideas to market to change the way homes are built for the average consumer.

"This house was designed to be able to be made in a factory setting," says Elif Patton, a Virginia Tech engineering graduate. “We have a lot of technology built into this house so that it can meet the needs of the person who lives in it."

"There's walls that move, there's, you know, vanity tops, cabinetry, toilets, et cetera. They all actuate up and down to adjust to little toddlers, to tall people, to grandma, et cetera." says Matthew Erwin, a Virginia Tech student & lead engineer

"It's almost like building a house with LEGOs, right? But sophisticated LEGOs," says Wheeler.

Virginia's Dominion Energy helped sponsor the project.

"It's gonna drive lower carbon emissions, right?" says Emil Avram, Vice President of Innovation at Dominion Energy. "You have solar on the rooftop, energy storage using batteries in the home, it recycles water."

The base model is a 900-square-foot, one bedroom home, but homeowners would have the ability to add or remove bedrooms as their family grows or shrinks.

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FutureHAUS took about a week to be re-assembled in Alexandria, Virginia, where it is being showcased through August. Previously, the team showed the house in New York's Times Square.

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