The University of Michigan's Solar Home
"While the futuristic looking modular house that sits behind the conservatory of the University of Michigan's Matthaei Botanical Gardens is unquestionably good for the environment, it may also someday be good for business.
What started as a student competition to build a solar house could turn into a business venture where homebuyers would go to their local Target, Wal-Mart or Ikea to purchase modular components for their customized house and transport it on a trailer to a homesite.
It's too early to put down a down payment - since there will be at least five years of research, study and tweaking - but the U-M solar house (MiSo) is an idea that could make sense as energy consumption and housing costs become growing issues.
"The idea is to create a MiSo brand," said Harry Giles, professor at the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning.
The 650-square-foot passive energy house has one bedroom, living and dining space, a bathroom, a small kitchen and a laundry area. Some 32 solar panels collect energy used to power the house. The goal is to make the house a net energy producer with net zero carbon emissions."