As a member of the Active House Alliance I was invited to attend the big EcoBuild World Conference last week in London, England. The Active House Network had a significant presence there and, in addition to attending Alliance meetings, I was invited to speak about the economics of investing in a high performance green home or building, and to do a presentation on the Active House USA Prototype project.
During the conference all of the Active House prototype homes were featured in a display at the Active House booth. I overheard a few comments that the Jeff Day designed Active House USA home was “American looking” which I of course, took pride in. It is quite fascinating to look at the different designs of all the prototypes-some traditional like the USA Home and some ultra-modern. All are reflective of the architectural design of the country in which they are located, yet all function at the upper levels of building performance. (If you are interested in seeing just how different these homes look from one another you can see the prototypes on the Active House Alliance website.)
Our Active House USA story is somewhat unique as we are building an infill home in a well established area of Webster Groves, only two blocks from Webster’s downtown district. The Active House Specifications are meant to be a guide to achieve high performance goals for building durable homes, managing the resources it takes to build, and all with a sharp focus on energy efficiency to greatly reduce need for power and water use. For example, the Active House USA design incorporates natural light sources in our energy planning while adding to the comfort of living in the home.
While many of the Active House prototype homes has some freedom in how they were designed to achieve the goals of the Active House specification, Active House USA had the additional challenge of working within the well established architectural guidelines of Old Webster. In other words, we had to take a typical home design and make it an Active House!
The end result is that we are building a home that looks similar to the historical surrounding homes in this Midwest neighborhood, while outperforming them exponentially! And the significance of this challenge and achievement was not lost on the attendees at EcoBuild.
About Matt Belcher – Mr Belcher, owner of Verdatek Solutions, is an experienced builder/developer and nationally recognized consultant, educator and author on the business of green building and development. He served on the steering committee of the Canadian based Net Zero Energy Home Coalition to develop a North American Net Zero Energy Home Standard. He has advised the Chinese Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development in the Development of the “Green Star” Green Building Standard in China. In 2008 Mr. Belcher testified to the U.S. House Energy and Air Quality Subcommittee on Climate Benefits of Improved Building Energy Efficiency.