The Cliffs Cottage at Furman University has all the latest technological innovations in sustainable living -- geothermal heating and cooling, two solar technologies, even cisterns that collect rainwater from the roof, and more. Furnished with products that are environmentally sustainable, like bamboo floors and tile made from recycled glass, the home has 3,400 square feet, but is so energy-efficient that it can be heated and cooled for less than $75 a month.

The Cliffs Cottage at Furman isSouthern Livingmagazine’s first “green” showcase home. It was built on campus in 2008 to serve as a model of environmentally responsible design, sustainable building techniques and materials, and energy-saving systems. In addition to Furman andSouthern Living, the principal partners in the project are The Cliffs Communities, Duke Energy and Bank of America.

Some of the home’s features:
  • A passive solar design, which integrates an assortment of building features to reduce the need for cooling and heating and daytime artificial lighting.
  • The Cliffs Cottage utilizes a geothermal heating and cooling system.
  • There are two solar technologies - solar thermal for heating water and solar electric (photovoltaic) technology for generating electrical power. Heat from the sun is captured through two roof-mounted flat plate collectors, which then is transferred to an 80-gallon storage tank. The solar thermal technology can provide up to 80 percent of domestic hot water needs.
  • The bathrooms contain low-flow showerheads and faucets.
  • The formal and organic gardens that surround the Cliffs Cottage feature native plants that can tolerate the region’s climate and soil conditions, as well as typical ornamental plantings that are drought tolerant and easy to maintain. Most of the water needs for the gardens are supplied by one 12,000-gallon cistern system that collects rainwater from the roof.
The Cliffs Cottage will be open to the public through the end of August. After August, the house will be retrofitted as the university’s Center for Sustainability, which will provide office and meeting space for the university’s sustainability initiatives.

For more information, visit the Cliffs Cottage Web site at, or call 864-294-2396.