People move into new homes every day, but rarely is their relocation covered by international media. But that’s just the fanfare experienced by the Smith family of St. Louis, MO. Of course, the fact that their new home may guide the future design of energy-efficient homes around the world may have something to do with it.
The Smith’s new dwelling in the St. Louis suburb of Webster Groves is the first Active House in the United States. An ‘Active House’ is energy efficient and all energy needed is supplied by renewable energy sources integrated in the building or from the nearby collective energy system and electricity grid.
As interest in green building continues to grow, ambitious architects have longed to design the carbon neutral house (one that produces as much energy as it consumes). While there are lots of prototypes out there, most look like they climbed out of an experimental bunker. If you’re going to ask people to buy and build zero emissions homes, they have to at least resemble the other houses in the neighborhood.
Active Houses create healthier and more comfortable indoor conditions for the occupants as the design ensures a generous supply of daylight and fresh air. Materials used have a positive impact on comfort and indoor climate, and it’s all packaged in a modern design that would be a welcome addition to any neighborhood.
“Project leaders chose Webster Grove, a suburb of St. Louis, Missouri, as the building site for its first U.S. construction project because it’s an area that receives all climate extremes, from ice-cold winters to sweltering hot summers,” reports Gizmag. “If the house proves to be energy efficient in this location, the theory goes, it should work just as well in any other location in the United States.”
In the active house, electricity and hot water are mostly provided by solar power, with a natural gas system providing backup when needed. Natural lighting reduces the need for energy-sucking substitutes, with windows, skylights and sun tunnels scattered throughout every room. At the center of Active House’s construction is natural ventilation and improved insulation so that temperatures remain comfortable with as little energy expenditure as possible.
“Windows that open are arranged in a straight path upwards, while the rest of the house is sealed airtight, maximizing the flow of fresh air inside. The outside walls also incorporate insulated panels and double-paned windows to reduce the amount of heat transfer, and the roof is covered in solar-reflective tiles to deflect sunlight and heat.” (Explore more details of the Active House in this PDF).
The Smith Family moved into the home earlier this month, and will begin working closely with the University of Missouri Energy Efficiency Research Consortium and the Active House Alliance to provide data that will assist with further research and development of green building standards both in the US and abroad.
All images courtesy of ActiveHouse.info