House to road trip 170 miles through Michigan

Meadowlark Design + Build, an award-winning residential design-build construction company, announced January 18, 2017 that it has been contracted to restore the Michigan Solar House (MiSo) to a permanent residence for its new owners, Lisa and Matt Gunneson, who recently bought the iconic home at auction. On Jan. 23, Meadowlark assisted moving the MiSo to the Gunneson’s property in Evart, Mich.

The Michigan Solar House is an innovative 660-square foot, solar-powered home collaboratively designed and built by an interdisciplinary team of architecture students and faculty from Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning at The University of Michigan for the 2005 Solar Decathlon, in Washington, DC.

The goal of the concept building was to create a prototype capable of being mass-produced and customized. Employing passive energy methods with the aim of net zero-energy consumption, the structure is fed by solar power and heating. Conceptually, like an automobile, MiSo was envisioned as a residential module that could be universal, autonomous, and easily transported around the globe.

During the past 10 years, the house has been used as an exhibit at the Matthaei Botanical Gardens in Ann Arbor, Mich. The house went to auction in October, 2016. The Gunnesons placed the winning bid.

“We have an emotional connection to the MiSo, as Matt and I had our first date at the Matthaei Botanical Gardens, and were married there in 2015,” said Lisa, a natural health therapist and educator. “When we heard the solar home was up for auction, we put in a bid because we really want to live a simple, self-sufficient kind of life.”

Following the MiSo’s move to Evart, the Meadowlark team will work to provide for a net-zero impact home.

“This is a one-of-a-kind home, and our expertise in sustainable construction will help ensure the Gunnesons transport and restore the home exactly to their specifications,” said Doug Selby, CEO of Meadowlark Design + Build. “It’s also a labor of love, as two of our staff members, Jen Hinesman and Melissa Kennedy, were part of the University of Michigan team that created the MiSo back in 2005.”

Credit: Meadowlark Design + Build.

Credit: Meadowlark Design + Build.

Moving to a net-zero home would normally be a challenging process, but this structure is unique in that it was purposely built to be sustainable in a variety of environments. The house is modular in nature, making it somewhat portable. It’s the original ‘tiny house’ concept without the need for any additional power inputs to be fully operational.

The house captures solar energy both photovoltaic and solar-thermal, and converts it to hot water for the radiant floors and electricity, which powers all energy-dependent elements including appliances lighting and pumps. The frame is made of aluminum to help cool the home in the summer.

Quick Facts:
  • For more information on the Michigan Solar House Project:
  • Meadowlark Design + Build has built or re-built 14 LEED Platinum Certified homes in Southeast Michigan and is one of the nation’s leading green design-build firms.
  • Meadowlark specializes in designing and building deep green structures – solar powered homes that are healthy, comfortable and cost-effective over the long term. For more information on Meadowlark Design + Build: