College students compete in solar decathlon to promote ‘green’ living

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Western New York isn’t typically associated with gardens. More people probably envision Buffalo covered in the lake-effect snow than in greenery. But two solar decathalon teams from area universities are trying to change that.

Unlike the traditional home, which uses energy, the ‘GROW’ house actually creates it. Nate Heckman from Team Buffalo said, “Buffalo has been experiencing a considerable resurgence. A lot of positive energy has been going into the community. A lot of urban farming has been going on, and we really wanted to capture that spirit of Buffalo in this house.”

Students from University at Buffalo and Alfred State University are part of a global competition called the Solar Decathlon in California. They plan, design and build a home that uses no energy. Katie Dussing, From Team Alfred, said, “I have learned all of these new ways to save energy, and I can help with my community and bring that back to the place that I live.”

The 1,100-square-foot home could house up to a small family of three. But the house chores will be a little more involved, as the house encourages you to grow your own food inside it.

Chris Osterhoudt. The General Project Manager said, “Instead of going to a grocery store, and you’re getting your food from a farm that goes to a factory to the grocery store, you grow all your fruits and vegetables right here inside this greenhouse structure.” The two teams, with two very different designs will compete against each other. But team members say they just want Western New York to take home the title.

Avery Sandler from Team Alfred said, “They came over and actually supported us, helped us out, did some carpentry with us, they are the one team that we are grateful for, being in this competition.”

Heckman said, “They are our friends, and yes we are in a competition but we love helping people and that’s what Buffalo is all about, we are the city of good neighbors.”

There are 10 contests, but one of them is to see which team can get the most votes on their website, so now their community can get involved too. You can get more information on how to vote for the teams at the GROW home website.

A winner will be named on October 17th. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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