The off-grid Whitehorse project was constructed by nonprofit DesignBuildBLUFF largely out of on-site materials including dirt, recycled telephone poles, recycled sheets of aluminum, shipping pallets, and hand-mixed plaster.

The design team, made up of students from the University of Utah, packed a full kitchen and three bedrooms plus a loft into a comfortable living space for a single mother and her children.

No mechanical systems are used to keep the house comfortable. During cold desert winters, a wood-fired rocket stove heats up the entire structure and southern-facing windows provide solar gain. In-floor radiant heating adds more warmth when needed, and vertical solar panels heat water. In addition, a gutted roof harvests rainwater, which is stored in a 2,000-gallon cistern buried underground.

DesignBuildBLUFF builds environmentally sustainable homes in the Navajo Nation by introducing first-year graduate students in architecture to the culture and history of Utah’s desert southeast, where they design and build a home for a Navajo Family. Projects incorporate salvaged and found materials, modern technologies, and traditional building methods.

Other sustainable features include:
--a water catchment system
--solar hot water heaters
--radiant flooring