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North America’s first Active House nears completion


A new kind of structural insulated panel (SIP) project is taking shape in St. Louis, Missouri—the first home in North America to meet the Active House standard. Originating in Belgium, the Active House movement focuses on making homes that are healthier and more comfortable for occupants while reducing their impact on the environment through energy reduction and renewable energy. The Active House standard takes a holistic approach sustainable construction, but focus on three main areas: energy consumption and production, indoor air quality, and selecting materials that are durable, locally sourced, and evaluated through life cycle assessment.

The St. Louis home, dubbed Active House USA, is the product of a partnership between Hibbs Homes and Verdatek Solutions. Architect Jeff Day designed the 2,500 sq. ft. home, delivering a classic four-square style fitting of the site’s historic neighborhood.

To limit environmental impact, the Active House specification calls for reductions in energy use and requires that all energy be supplied by renewable sources.

When designing Active House USA, part of the strategy to meet the energy efficiency metrics was to specify SIPs from Insulspan for the walls and roof of the home to reduce heating and cooling loads. The design also uses extensive daylighting—another quantitative requirement under the Active House specification.

Further energy savings will be achieved with triple-pane windows, a 98% AFUE natural gas furnace, and an energy recovery ventilator. A 4.8 kW grid-tied PV system on the roof will supply the renewable energy.

The University of Missouri’s Center for Sustainable Energy will provide energy and indoor air quality monitoring after the home has been occupied through its first year of residence.

Matt Belcher, the Principal of Verdatek Solutions, will be speaking at the upcoming 2013 SIPA Annual Meeting & Conference, April 2-4 in Tucson, Arizona on the topic of green remodeling and retrofits.

Visit the Active House USA website for more information.

For a copy of the Active House specification, visit the Active House Alliance.

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