Aging in place in a net zero energy, 1920’s bungalow

Presented by: Zoohee Choi, Denise McAllister Wilder, Lisa VanZee

The purpose of this poster presentation is to introduce a multi-disciplinary design project currently under way.  The interior design program is teaming up with other programs to renovate a 1920’s Arts and Crafts bungalow into a net-zero energy building which will eventually provide a template for those desiring to adapt other residential buildings to support the desire of the aging population to stay in their homes. The resulting home will have energy and water saving features and will be equipped with solar panels that produce both electricity and hot water.  Universal design features will be incorporated to create a fully accessible home.  Engineers from a major manufacturer are playing a significant part in the project and looking for information to enable them in the design of appliances by leveraging the world class resources at the university with their current research and development efforts to accelerate the development of the next generation of appliances.  

As interior design graduate students, our intention is to provide an interior solution to include a furniture plan, a lighting plan, and kitchen and bathroom renovation details as well as all fixtures and finishes.  The project will be on going with up to four graduate students living in the home while many others will be working there conducting research.  Our solution will respond to the needs of the various users and the global scope of the research project being conducted.  (Moore, 2013)

Additionally, we are working on the interior space plan with the intention of designing a fully accessible home with relatively compact kitchens and bathrooms to respect the historical integrity of the home. (Lehning, 2012) This particular home contains three stories but our design could be easily adapted for a single floor home to accommodate the needs of an aging user who has mobility issues.

Our design solution will incorporate modern components with the intention of making an adaptive reuse solution that can be easily duplicated in the huge number of existing homes in the United States and elsewhere. (Andrew Scharlach, 2012)  Much of the net-zero energy dialogue focuses on new buildings, this project addresses the fact that most homes being occupied by the aging population are existing structures.  

This proposed presentation responds to the fact that the United States currently has more than 130 million existing housing units, most of which have been in existence since the 1970s (Paul Emrath, 2012) Our design will support the short term needs of the current research project while demonstrating how aging seniors can make energy adaptations in their existing homes or perhaps in a newly purchased home in a walkable neighborhood as they move in from the suburbs to be closer to the amenities they need and desire.


  • Andrew Scharlach, C. G. (2012). The village model: a consumer driven approach for aging in place. Gerontologist, 418-427.
  • Lehning, A. J. (2012). City governments and aging in place. Gerontologist, 345-356.
  • Moore, H. (2013). Waste not, want not. Eco Home, 37-41.
  • Paul Emrath, H. T. (2012). Houseing value, costs and measuring physical adequacy. City Scape, 99-125.
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