KNOXVILLE—The University of Tennessee in Knoxville is donating the Living Light House— its award-winning, solar-powered project—to the Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge.
The Living Light House will move to its permanent home on Saturday, May 17. Starting at 7 a.m., the 750-square-foot, zero-energy structure, will be transported from the UT Gardens to the Oak Ridge museum at 461 W. Outer Drive. The move is expected to take several hours.
“The house has served as an ambassador for good design and energy efficiency,” said James Rose, UT architecture lecturer and lead faculty member of the Living Light project. “One of the most satisfying things about giving tours of the house is the response from children. Young people are always fascinated by the house and leave it excited about the future. I cannot think of a better place for the Living Light house to carry on this mission than at the Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge.”
The Living Light House, which was built through the efforts of more than 200 UT students, was an entry to the 2011 U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon in Washington, D.C. It has traveled nearly 6,000 miles, been toured by more than 50,000 visitors, and was on exhibit at the 2012 Smithsonian Folklife Festival.
Rose and Susan Ballentine of the UT Office of Research searched for a community institution interested in becoming a long-term steward of the house. The children’s museum was the first and most enthusiastic responder, Rose said.
“The Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge will offer schools and families of East Tennessee an opportunity to learn about caring for the earth and developing conservation practices by visiting the Living Light house in our Environmental Learning Center and Gardens through activities, classes, and tours,” said Carroll Welch, the museum’s executive deputy director.
She added that the home will be part of the museum’s outdoor exhibit, the Kids Go Green! Environmental Learning Center.
Several challenges arose as a result of the move, Rose said. Because the children’s museum is in a residential area in Oak Ridge, the museum had to move trees, excavate a slope, and create a temporary road to access the site.
The home will be near the museum’s new gardens and will serve as a kitchen for farm-to-table cooking demonstrations, he said.
It will be opened to the public in the coming months.
More than two years of work went into creating the Living Light House for the Solar Decathlon, an international competition among collegiate teams. UT received high marks in several categories, including first in energy production, third in engineering, third in hot-water production, third in energy-efficient appliances, and fifth in architecture.
After the decathlon, Living Light became a traveling exhibit and research laboratory. For the past few years, the university, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Electrical Power Research Institute have conducted testing of its energy productivity. The museum has agreed to allow the UT architecture and mechanical engineering faculty to continue ongoing data collection and experimentation. As a result, the home will contribute to the research for the next generation of energy-efficient buildings, Rose said.