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maker playground

go green at home | 3rd grade+

Inspired by Pepco’s WaterShed Sustainability Center, design your own sustainable solution for everyday living.


Our homes are constantly using energy. Each time you watch TV, turn on the heat or air conditioner, wash dishes, take a snack out of the fridge, or take a hot shower, your home draws on energy sources to do so. The appliances in our home make using energy so easy that most of us don’t even consider just how much we’re using and where it’s coming from.

But did you know that it’s possible for a home or other building to be zero energy? That means that the home actually creates as much (or more) energy as it uses!

For an example of a net zero energy home, check out the amazing WaterShed Sustainability center from our friends over at Pepco. WaterShed is a model built by students at the University of Maryland in 2011, and was the winner of the US Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon.

To get a closer look at WaterShed and all the different innovations used in the construction of the house, check out the Virtual Tour.

Check out this clip from our October 2019 Go Green Design Challenge to learn more about the WaterShed Sustainability center.


While we may not all be able to live in zero energy homes like WaterShed, with a little creativity, we can reduce the amount of energy we use.

Design a creative solution to reduce the amount of energy used in your own home and build a model of your solution. You can improve an item you already have in your home to make it more sustainable, design a way to incorporate an existing sustainable technology, or create something totally new.

  • As you think of what you might build, consider the following questions:
    What parts of your home use the most energy, and where does that energy come from?
  • How can you reduce energy in your home by creating a product or technology that uses less energy?
  • Or can you create something that helps change the behavior of the people in your household so they use less energy?


Once you’ve got your idea for a creative energy-reducing solution, you’ll need to develop a model of your idea. You can use simple household materials like cardboard and recyclables to create your model. Check out these helpful videos to get started working with cardboard.

If you’d rather create a digital model or a sketch, that’s great too! Make sure you send us a photo or file of your design to so we can feature your creation on our website or social media pages.