The landscape design students, along with others from American University and the Catholic University of America, were part of the Team Capitol DC that entered the 2013 Decathlon to design an energy-efficient, solar-powered home. The annual event is sponsored by the US Department of Energy and involves student teams from around the world.
The project -- called Harvest Home -- was to design a home for an injured war veteran suffering from PTSD. The goal of the landscape design students -- Janet Conroy, Julie Melear and Mary Sper -- was to create a peaceful and healing environment for the former serviceman, one that was designed for his health and also to reconnect him with his family and community.
The site had a limited water supply and was subject to harsh Santa Ana winds, so many native plants were used throughout the project. The design doubled the square footage of the 900 SF home by adding decks, ramps and landings.
The outdoor dining table has a water rill and herbs down the center of the table. Two vegetable gardens were incorporated, providing fresh, organic produce and engaging the homeowner in a restorative, healing activity. The edibles are planted in recycled milk crates that can be moved, depending on seasons and weather conditions.
There's also a cistern which collects rainwater from the roof, which is used, along with grey water, to irrigate the plants when necessary.
Team Capitol DC placed seventh out of 20 in the competition -- but best of all, the home was donated to a veteran through Wounded Warrior Homes, a non-profit group that assists returning veterans. Catherine Anderson, a faculty mentor and asst professor of interior design, commented that Harvest Home would not have been realized "without engineers, architects, interior designers and landscape designers coming together to create a beautiful, sustainable house."