Active House prototype breaks ground – in Missouri

You read that right, coastal types – we’ve got something new and cool going on here in flyover country. Yesterday, in the St. Louis suburb of Webster Groves, the creators of the first US home built to Active House standards broke ground for construction. Representatives of builders Hibbs Homes and Verdatek Solutions, architect Jeff Day & Associates, and the European Active House Alliance all showed up to don hard hats, turn a little dirt for the cameras, and share this concept for homebuilding.

If you’re familiar with green building standards, the name “Active House” might lead you to believe that this concept differs radically from the German Passive House/Passivhaus model (because, you know, “active” and “passive” are opposites). While the creators of the brand might have had that in mind, the difference between the two standards are “pretty cut and dry,” according to MNN’s Matt Hickman:

While a home built to exacting Passive House standards relies primarily on energy savings through super-tight insulation and building orientation and not on renewable energy systems, the popular-in-Denmark Active House movement is essentially a holistic, Euro take on net-zero housing (i.e. the home produces more energy than it consumes) that focuses heavily on heavily on indoor air quality, energy balance, and sustainable building materials.

Those three elements – indoor climate, energy balance, and interaction with the natural environment – drive all other considerations of Active House construction throughout the process. The end result isn’t just green, but also affordable and easy to operate.

The Webster Groves house is a prototype, and owners David and Thuy Smith will allow the University of Missouri’s Center for Sustainable Energy to chart energy use and air quality in the home during the first year. The builders also noted that they’ll interrupt construction at points to allow green building geeks and the media to take a look at what they’ve done so far. When complete, the house will fit right into its historic neighborhood (except, of course, for the utility bills the Smiths will pay).

A rendering of the completed house

Intrigued? The Active House USA developers have a website for the project, so you can keep an eye on construction progress. The Active House Alliance also has a ton of information available (including 45 pages of specs, if you’re into such things). Take a look, and let us know what you think.


Image credits: Active House USA