Building the first U.S. Active House

| by Heather Ferrier Laminack
Building the first U.S. Active House

While attending the 2012 EEBA Excellence in Building Conference this week in Arizona, I had the privilege of hearing many great speakers share their vision & strategy for continuing the high performance momentum in their communities & beyond. The resounding theme was that although what worked 5, 10, 15 years ago might have been effective and cutting edge at the time, we all must continue to evolve and change the template of how we build homes. Just as Energy Star continually raises the bar on how an "energy efficient" product is defined, we too must continue to push the envelope of the way we design & build homes to increase home performance.

As an example of such innovation, Matt Belcher of Verdatek Solutions shared a home he isoverseeing near St. Louis. It's the first Active House to debut in the US. The home (dubbed Active House USA) will focus on a healthy and comfortable indoor climate with superior energy efficiency and a minimum impact on environmental resources.

The Active House concept emphasizes three key sustainability factors: balance and efficient energy consumption; healthy indoor air; and the use of durable, local and recycled content materials.

Designed to specification finalized last year by the Active House Alliance, the home will serve as a prototype to help further develop Active House guidelines for North American climate and environmental needs. The first of its kind in the United States and Canada, the project is ideally located in a mixed humid climate that requires cold & warm climate specifications, allowing for easy translations of the prototype into other regions of the country.

The three-bedroom SIP-built home will be orientated to control and maximize the sun's warmth. At no cost, Active House Alliance staff consulted on the project's design, especially in the areas of solar orientation and daylighting strategies. Other sustainable features will include a poured foundation with insulated walls, a 98 percent efficient gas furnace, no or low-VOC materials & finishes, triple-glazed windows, an ERV for optimal air circulation and solar, which is both for water heating and electricity generation.

Because the Active House program is an overarching standard with no performance metric-based requirements, an important part of the program is energy monitoring after the homeowners move in. The University of Missouri's Center for Sustainable Energy will monitor energy consumption and indoor air quality for the home's first year of residence.


Topics: Building Green, GREAT GREEN HOMES, Heating & Cooling, Paint | Low VOC and No VOC, Windows



Heather Ferrier Laminack
Representing the fourth generation of the Ferrier Companies, Heather Ferrier Laminack functions as the marketing manager for Texas-based green home builder Ferrier Custom Homes, utilizing her passion for sustainable building practices and her first-hand experience of green building techniques. View Heather Ferrier Laminack's profile on LinkedIn

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