SU+RE HOUSE Branding + Communications

Year-long design partnership with the Stevens Institute of Technology that helped secure their graduate team first place in the 2015 U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon.
Client: Stevens Institute of TechnologyTimeframe: 2014 – 2015Website:

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon is a collegiate competition that challenges student teams to design and build full-size, solar-powered houses that best blend design excellence and smart energy production with innovation, market potential, and energy & water efficiency. It is the biggest competition of its kind for one of the biggest challenges of our industry.

Branding + Identity Systems
Communication Tools + Collateral
Environmental Graphics
Infographics + Data Visualization
Interaction Design + User Experience
Technology + Development

Having placed 13th in 2011, then 4th two years later, the Stevens team pulled out all the stops when it came time to gathering the troops for the 2015 showdown – including bringing our expert visual design and communications team into their development process from day one. And it paid off.

A fully-functioning prototype of what a truly sustainable and resilient home should be, the SU+RE HOUSE reduces its energy use by more than 90% – thanks to its innovative use of solar power and strict Passive House standards – while simultaneously protecting itself from the all-too-real effects of climate change – with ingenious flood proof construction allowing it to remain safe and dry in flood water elevations of up to 5 feet. A concept born in the aftermath of hurricane Sandy, the SU+RE HOUSE was developed with coastal New Jersey in mind but embodies an ideal coastal home for any region of the world.

We knew this design was special ingenious when we first saw it. Our goal was going to be to convince the 2015 U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon jury (and the general public) that it was the one.


Over the course of the year leading up to the competition, our work with the Stevens student and faculty team included branding the project, developing all public-facing communication materials including the website, email campaigns, fundraising and outreach efforts, information graphics, site signage, collateral, and uniforms, culminating in the design of the onsite exhibition and all environmental graphics that guided tens of thousands of visitors throughout the SU+RE HOUSE during the Solar Decathlon competition that took place over a 10-day period in October 2015.

In addition to our work as the SU+RE HOUSE’s dedicated design team, our creative captain also led a semester-long information design course with the graduate students on the team, exploring methods of information design and data visualization for best expressing their concepts and innovations. Many of these designs were featured on the team’s PopSci blog leading up to the competition as well as in the design of the exhibition onsite in Irvine.

The SU+RE HOUSE not only won the 2015 Solar Decathlon, they did so by placing first in 7 of the 10 decathlon categories – including Architecture, Engineering, and Communications!

This is something that has never been done before.