Beginning at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan.24, Senator Frank W. Wagner (R., VA 7) will have a new temporary address, Virginia Tech Solar House, Science Museum of Virginia, 2500 West Broad Street, Richmond, Va. Senator Wagner, long a proponent of alternate energy sources, will be testing the viability of solar living for himself by living for a week in the award-winning Virginia Tech Solar House.

Built by students and faculty in Virginia Tech’s College of Architecture and Urban Studies and College of Engineering for the 2005 U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon, the Virginia Tech Solar House will be toured by the General Assembly on the 24th and on public exhibition at the Science Museum of Virginia beginning mid-February.

Senator Wagner will test the house’s ability to generate enough energy from the sun to not only run all the typical appliances found in an American home, but even supply energy to Richmond’s grid. The senator will find that staying in this solar house is like house sitting for a movie star who’s into green living. He will operate and monitor the house’s systems with a “remote control” sure to inspire electronic-envy in even the most connected techno fans, stay cozy with radiant floor heating beneath sustainable harvested Lyptus wood floors, and enjoy a slate-lined bathroom featuring a laminar flow of water that cascades from a mirror into a futuristic sink.

The Virginia Tech Solar House has won numerous awards, including: Best Architecture, Best Livability, Best Daylighting, Best Electric Lighting, and fourth overall at the Solar Decathlon; a 2006 Honor Award from the Virginia Society of the American Institute of Architects (AIA); an AIA Presidential Award; and a National Council of Architectural Registration Boards Honorable Mention for the Creative Integration of Practice and Education in the Academy. The house has been featured nationally on ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” on PBS’s “This Old House,” on HGTV’s “I Want That!,” in a DIY network documentary about the 2005 Solar Decathlon, in “Popular Mechanics” magazine; and in “Dwell” magazine, among others.

College of Architecture and Urban Studies faculty who led the Virginia Tech Solar House include Robert Schubert, associate dean of research; Robert Dunay, T. A. Carter Professor of Architecture and chair of the Department of Industrial Design; and Joe Wheeler, assistant professor of architecture. Another eight faculty from the university were also involved. A core team of twenty students were involved with the house since planning began in 2003. Another nine students made possible the move and installation of the Virginia Tech Solar House to the Science Museum of Virginia.

The College of Architecture and Urban Studies is one of the largest of its type in the nation. The college is composed of three schools and the departments of landscape architecture, and art and art history. The School of Architecture + Design includes programs in architecture, industrial design and interior design. The School of Public and International Affairs includes programs in urban affairs and planning, public administration and policy, and government and international affairs. The Myers-Lawson School of Construction, a joint school of the College of Architecture and Urban Studies and the College of Engineering, includes programs in building construction and construction management. The college enrolls more than 2,000 students offering 25 degrees taught by 160 faculty members.

The Science Museum of Virginia, at 2500 West Broad Street in Richmond, can be reached at (804) 864-1400 or (800) 659-1727. The Science Museum of Virginia offers visitors of all ages a place to experiment, learn, explore and delve into scientific concepts with hundreds of hands-on exhibits.

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