Missouri Home Incorporates American and European Green Home Building Practices

Missouri Home Incorporates American and European Green Home Building Practices

Reuse and recycling plays role in sustainable building of Active House USA.

August 3, 2012
CDR Staff
Green Building

Active House USA, a custom sustainable home under construction in the St. Louis suburb of Webster Groves, Mo., is bringing together leading green, sustainable, and environmentally conscious building practices from around the world to the United States.

The prototype home combines expertise from sustainable building practices in the United States and from European Active House Alliance practices. Construction began in early May, 2012, with occupancy expected by September 2012.

The Active House USA home is incorporating Active House Alliance standards used in existing Active House Homes built around the world, and to meet, or exceed, four North American sustainable building certifications: Energy Star, EPA Indoor Air Plus, Building America Builder's Challenge and ANSI ICC-700-the National Green Building Standard.

The prototype home is being built as an infill project in an historic neighborhood. The original home on the lot was in poor condition and not a good candidate for renovation, according to developers.

Project manager Matt Belcher says his company, Verdatek Solutions, has diverted as much as 80 percent of an entire deconstructed home for reuse through cooperative organizations, including Habitat for Humanity and Re-Source St. Louis. "After performing an environmental analysis on the building and removing items such as asbestos and floor tiles, we normally give 'first crack' at donating some of the viable components to participating organizations where interested parties can procure and reuse the materials."

The Active House Alliance U.S. building partner is Kim Hibbs of Hibbs Homes, a Certified Green Professional through the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) and a custom green home builder in the St. Louis area. Project manager is Matt Belcher, a green builder, consultant and educator. Belcher serves as chair of the NAHB's Green Building sub-committee. The architect on the project is Jeff Day of Jeff Day & Associates.

"From careful deconstruction and recycling of materials, such as interior framing in the original home, to the extensive use of VELUX No Leak skylights for natural light and passive ventilation, solar panels for water heating, geothermal wells for a good part of the energy requirements, and other green elements and techniques, we are building a very efficient home that will perform well," says Hibbs. "We even ground the concrete foundation of the original home into gravel for fill in the new construction," he says.

Mikkel Skott Olsen, chairman of the Active House committee, traveled from Denmark to attend the groundbreaking. "These homes take an innovative approach to energy efficiency, indoor air quality and interaction with the surrounding environment," he says, "and a holistic approach to sustainability and community conscious home construction."

Belcher notes that the Active House specifications are meant to be a guide to achieve high performance goals for building durable homes and managing the resources it takes to build, all with a focus on energy efficiency to greatly reduce need for power and water use. "For example," he says, "the Active House USA design incorporates natural light sources in our energy planning while adding to the comfort of living in the home."

The University of Missouri Columbia Center for Sustainable Design will monitor and document energy data for the home during the first year of occupancy.

Stephan Moyon, director of sales for VELUX America, says that the project will demonstrate to construction professionals nationwide that quality, energy efficient skylights and windows can work together to result in a highly energy efficient home. "Active House principles illustrate the concept of the interaction between homes and their occupants and why it is important for sustainability that all elements of design work together,” Moyon says. “It's a message that is being conveyed to architects and builders throughout the country."