This is a bit off-topic for this blog, but I thought readers might want to hear about houses that reduce energy consumption by 90 percent. According to Studio 804, which built a passive house in Kansas City,

The heating load is drastically reduced by means of a super-insulated, virtually airtight building shell, broad Southern exposure and an energy recovery ventilator that provides constant fresh air and even distribution of heat.

The house is being sold for about $180,000, which puts it out of reach of the poorer residents of Kansas City. They are the people who need these homes the most. We need some kind of partnership, a la Habitat for Humanity, that pairs rich people willing to pay for these homes with poor people who need a more efficient home.

For more articles about passive homes, go to a blog called Jetson Green, which has published quite a few articles on passive houses in the United States. There are links to those articles at the end of the post on the KC house.

Leave A Comment

  1. Cara Lopez Lee January 31, 2011 at 1:32 pm - Reply

    What a wonderful advance! If the other side of the house is the same as the side shown in the picture, I will say that the lack of windows might make me feel claustrophobic. However, perhaps if we want to be energy efficient, we need to start going outside for our sunshine and spend less time indoors. This seems like a good habit to develop, as our excessive energy consumption can easily be linked to our obesity epidemic on many levels.

    Ultimately, my big question would be how much longer are we still better off upgrading the houses we have now? After all, there is also tremendous energy consumed in tearing down an old house and building a new one. Even with that in mind, it seems worth it to make this sort of construction the standard for the future, as just one small way to help us out of the energy-abusing hole we humans have dug for ourselves.

  2. Beth Partin January 31, 2011 at 5:44 pm - Reply

    Cara, I wonder about things like that too. There’s a project in Denver called Living City Block that aims to restore all the buildings on 1 square block in downtown Denver. That seems like a worthwhile project to me. Maybe it would be better to rebuild houses if we had a way to use all the old materials. Until then, upgrading is probably best if the house isn’t too old.

  3. Todd Bradley January 31, 2011 at 10:48 pm - Reply

    That house looks cool. But they could have put more of it underground and gotten even better thermal properties.

  4. Beth Partin February 1, 2011 at 9:47 am - Reply

    Probably so, but the underground levels of places I’ve lived have always felt cold to me. I prefer my house be in the sun, not the earth.