The New Norris House: A Sustainable Home for the 21st Century

EPA Grant Number: SU833947
Title: The New Norris House: A Sustainable Home for the 21st Century
Investigators: Ezzell, Tim , Tonn, Bruce , Wilt, Catherine
Current Investigators: Ezzell, Tim , Herbert, Thomas H , Hooten, Arklie Levi , Luster, Daniel James , Matuliauskaite-Morales, Ramune , Monaco, Joan Kathleen , Mortimer, Samuel Allen , Stuth, Tricia , Wild, Bethany Lynden , Wilt, Catherine
Institution: University of Tennessee - Knoxville
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Phase: I
Project Period: August 15, 2008 through August 14, 2009
Project Amount: $9,889
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2008) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Challenge Area - Built Environment , P3 Awards , Sustainability


In 1933 the Tennessee valley Authority constructed a model community, Norris, Tennessee, as part of the Norris Dam construction project. A key feature of this New Deal village was the Norris House, a series of home designs built as models for modern, efficient, and sustainable living. We propose, in light of the 75th anniversary of the Norris Project, to reinterpret the Norris paradigm and create a New Norris House - a sustainable home designed for the 21st century.

As with the original Norris designs, the home created in this project will utilize state of the art technologies and techniques. The structure will also use green and other sustainable materials in construction. Yet the challenge will go beyond the creation of a model home design. The structure will also have to address many of the community and legal constraints that currently deter sustainable home construction. The student design will have to be an affordable home buildable in the current city of Norris. To accomplish this, students will have to consult with community residents, work within local codes, and produce a structure that is compatible with the town’s National Register Historic District.

In doing so, the students will have to confront and resolve not only technological or scientific challenges, they will also have to resolve the legal, social, and aesthetic issues that currently restrict green construction.

We anticipate this will be a highly visible project that will engage residents and a wide range of stakeholder groups. Students will promote the project and project progress through a website and blog. The project will be evaluated using a wide range of performance and project indicators and through student evaluations and visitor comments.

Demonstration and education will be central elements of this project. Key to the demonstration strategy will be the construction of a playhouse-sized model home to illustrate design concepts and technologies. Educational media will be created in concert with the model. Following the competition, the model and associated media will be displayed in a number of regional venue via university and TVA channels. Students engaged in the multidisciplinary project will learn invaluable real-world skills and gain an understanding of the trade-offs and constraints associated with sustainable development.


The creation of a replicable, sustainable home design based on the original Norris concept.


Students will develop the design using both scientific and historical research methods. The result will also be developed in consultation with Norris residents and will be in concert with local building standards.

Expected Results:

The project will result in the creation of a replicable home design that is compatible with most existing community constraints.

Relevant Websites:

Phase 2 Abstract

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report
  • P3 Phase II:

    UPLOAD: The New Norris House – A Sustainable Home for the 21st Century