First 'Active Green' Home in Nation Planned for Webster Groves
The home, which is a prototype of the Active House Alliance, will be designed and built with sustainability and the customer's pocketbook in mind, builder says.
A new “green” house being planned in Webster Groves will blend in with its more traditional neighbors, yet be more energy efficient and cost effective, its builder says.
“We don’t want to go put something in that sticks out like a sore thumb,” said Matt Belcher of Belcher Homes. “Nothing funky looking. They’d run me out on a rail in Webster–you need to do things that are consistent with the neighborhood.”
Belcher is the project manager for the house, a prototype of the Active House Alliance. The Active House Alliance is a European movement that embraces standards in building materials and practices in order to maximize energy and water efficiency and indoor air quality and lessen a building’s environmental impact.
The house, which will be built in the 200 block of Gray Ave., will be the first in the United States to have the “Active House” designation.
Belcher, a specialist in green construction, says more and more builders are embracing sustainable “green” building practices, and homeowners are demanding it.
“The bottom line is what we’re trying to do is build a better building with a tighter envelope using today’s more durable materials,” he said. The result is lower energy and operating costs, which translates to cash in the clients’ pockets, he said.
The existing one-story home will be torn down in coming weeks, with as many materials being recycled, repurposed or donated as possible, Belcher said.
The new, two-story home will feature a high-efficiency gas furnace, a solar thermal system to heat water, windows that take full advantage of sunlight, and even a storm water runoff system designed to lessen the impact on the surrounding area. Yet the exterior of the house should fit in with the century-old homes that grace the neighborhood, he said.
“We can do something that fits right in but outperforms what’s existing–the same thing, only better,” Belcher said.
Belcher said the clients, David and Thuy Smith of Brentwood, were interested in helping to showcase and test the innovative technology, but not at the expense of winding up in a home that looked out of place.
“They’re very excited,” he said.
Patch was unable to reach the homeowners after several attempts.
Belcher said the energy usage and air quality of the house would be monitored for the first year by the University of Missouri’s Center for Sustainable Energy as part of efforts to help improve green living standards around the county.
He said he suggested St. Louis when the Active Home Alliance approached him a year ago about building a prototype in the United States. St. Louis is an ideal location not only because of its central location, but because a home built here will be able to showcase designs to meet dry, humid, warm and cold weather efficiency needs, he said.