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Energy House (Rochester, N.Y.) records

 Collection — Box: 1, Volume: 1, Reel: 1
Identifier: RITArc-0033

Scope and Contents

The Energy House (Rochester, N.Y.) records contain documents related to the structure and its design. A majority of the collection is contained in a single binder. These items include photographs and slides, project progress reports, news releases, stated objectives, tour and exhibit plans, and a tour manual.

The collection also includes various other printed materials such as a postcard, promotional brochures, fliers advertising the house, floor plans, published articles, letterhead, and information on the logo design. There are also newspaper clippings on the house from 1975-1979.

Additionally, the collection contains a film reel on the Energy House.


  • Creation: 1975-1979

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to researchers.

Biographical / Historical

During the mid-1970s, Dr. Paul Wojciechowski, a professor in the Rochester Institute of Technology's (RIT) mechanical engineering department, started researching the feasibility of building a solar powered house in upstate New York. With the support of a grant and the Rochester Gas and Electric Company (RG&E), Wojciechowski was able to complete his research and reached the conclusion that such a structure could be sustainable. To prove this point, he decided to build a house that would be solar heated on RIT's campus.

Again partnering with RG&E, Wojciechowski began working on the project. Additional support was given by the Rochester Home Builders' Association, who provided labor and financial donations. Architect John Fayko was hired for the project. The house itself was designed to be energy efficient. Fayko described his creation as being a "contemporary New England salt-box," as it displayed the characteristic pitched roof. The house was cubic shaped to reduce the amount of area exposed to wind and had only a few windows to prevent heat loss. It was also strategically located on the plot of land to minimize wind exposure. All of the rooms in the house opened onto a central atrium to allow the warm air to rise up and out of the house in the summer and the cold air to sink into the basement in the winter. The house also had a front vestibule to isolate the outside air from the inside air. All of these features plus the extensive insulation, steel doors with weather stripping, and triple-paned windows helped to make the house more efficient for Rochester's cold winters.

The key feature of the house was its 38 solar collectors installed on the steeped roof. The roof was intentionally angled at 60 degrees to best capture the winter sun's rays. Both flat and tubular collectors were used; the 36 flat thermal panels helped to heat the house, while the two tubular collectors supported the water heating system. It was estimated that the solar panels were able to successfully heat the house for 50-60% of the winter.

The project team, which included Wojciechowski, Fayko, and Dr. Richard Kenyon of the College of Engineering, also put time into the aesthetic appearance of the house. Arthur Vitoch, an RIT alum, was hired to do the interior design, while John Wacker and Associates of Boston completed the landscaping. The building was completed in November 1977 and opened for a few months of public viewing in February 1978.

The house also included a loft over the garage that held an energy research lab. Although Wojciechowski planned to move into the structure with his family for the first year, he realized that his bias in favor of the house might skew the evaluation. Instead, Dr. Jasper Shealy , a professor in the College of Engineering, and his family were the first inhabitants of Energy House. The structure was eventually turned into the headquarters for the RIT Research Corporation, and then housed the Instructional Technology Department of the College of Applied Science and Technology. RIT demolished the building in 1998.


1.8 Linear Feet (1 binder, 1 lid box, 1 reel)




Materials related to RIT's Energy House, built in 1977. The house was part of an experiment to see if a solar powered house was viable in Rochester, NY. The collection includes photographs and slides, project reports, news releases, tour and exhibit plans, brochures, articles, clippings, and various pieces of ephemera.


This collection is currently unprocessed. Many of the items are contained in a single binder, organized into categories. The remaining printed materials are housed in a single lid box, while the film reel is housed in a separate metal canister.

Processing Information

Finding aid created by Lara Nicosia in December 2010.

Energy House (Rochester, N.Y.) records
RIT Archives
Lara Nicosia
03 December 2010
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the RIT Archives Repository

Rochester NY 14623 USA