Ford Motor Company Fund is the lead funder of the [sw]LAB NZE Ecosystem through their Ford College Community Challenge (Ford C3) grants program.
Our transdisciplinary team has designed a Net Zero Energy (NZE) structure which collects solar energy and rainwater and supports education and training in an outdoor classroom with learning gardens. The prototype represents a catalytic act in what will be a larger, replicable intervention across the DPS system and city of Detroit. The more ambitious long term vision includes a NZE canopy, neighborhood scale "collectivized" micro grid, and enhanced public realm. The team's goal was to innovate and hybridize NZE technologies; create and test a net new prototype structure; and work at the boundaries of their disciplines, thereby advancing them. The team asked: What if students learned about NZE in elementary school? What if residents were trained and empowered to generate their own energy? What if vacancy could be generative - of energy, wealth, educational opportunities? What would this mean for the stabilization of a neighborhood, the city, their future? The project has evolved over time in its capacity (in the form of emergent professional and community expertise), intensity (in the form and modes of intellectual and emotional investment, creative production, and the demands of multivariate performance criteria) and geography (from city to neighborhood scale to site and built intervention).