Eco-Village: Sustainable, affordable

  • Article by: JIM BUCHTA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 22, 2012 - 9:11 PM

A Habitat for Humanity project in River Falls, Wis., could be a model for economical and energy-efficient housing development.

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west336Aug. 23, 12 7:59 AM

It would have been much more sustainable (if that's truly the goal) to have the inhabitants of the village to live near where they work, not commute 45 minutes each way to the Twin Cities. It's amazing that River Falls is the closest place that Habitat for Humanity could find to make this project work, and doesn't bode well for the future of these types of sustainable developments (or net-0) if they have to be built on the periphery. Still, it's pretty cool to see that a home or neighborhood can be energy-independent in the day and age of cars, strip malls, and McMansions!

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dvsdan123Aug. 23, 12 8:06 AM

Remember Jonathon how is that doing today

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godiveAug. 23, 12 8:15 AM

Hope they have no health issues as we have been seeing with these super tight homes.

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ruphinaAug. 23, 12 9:04 AM

We know they are getting a $100,000 donation, free windows, and a free sprinkler system. They are also getting free labor. There is no mention of the value of other contributions by area businesses either. We know the purchase price of one of these is at least $130K, and the value of the donation and windows is at least $8k. How much is the project subsidized by the tax deductions from the company donations? What would it cost for a for-profit company to to do the construction? How much tax subsidy is inv olved in the solar panels? All this is GREAT for a small charity project, but to pretend that this can work on any wide scale basis is pure fantasy. Publish a study on the cost of this same housing as a private developement with NO subsidies and see if it is "sustainable". Unfortunately, in many ways, "sustainable" is a code word for heavily subsidized or (in the case of agriculture) highly ineffecient production. Bill G.

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solarnowAug. 23, 12 9:09 AM

This is a great thing! Affordable, sustainable homes that produce as much energy as they consume. That should be the code for all newly produced homes. WEST--who's to say that most of the folks who live in this new development don't stay (work & live) in River Falls? I know the article said a lot of River Falls folks commute, but it is and was a town unto itself long before suburban sprawl caught up to it. But I do agree, we need more developments like this within our urban areas.

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FrankLAug. 23, 12 9:17 AM

west336, where did you read they commuted into the twin cities? Most of the commuting is from students in the Twin Cities going to UWRF, not the local residents going into the metro.

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solarnowAug. 23, 12 9:28 AM

godive - if the homes are designed properly, with good air exchange, there should be no health issues due to "tight home."

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smittywblAug. 23, 1210:03 AM

Were you to seriously crunch the numbers then efficiency in the building envelope is far cheaper than the "Geothermal" heating. Those houses built to the Passive House Standard demonstrate far better overall performance. In the report it indicates the "Geothermal" technology to generate energy. It does not. Field performance, when measured is much below that claimed by contractors as well as manufacturers. I will also note the window photograph, as the lead in the story does not appear to have any flashing to control water entry into the building envelope. If I am right in this observation then this house would not meet code minimum in Minnesota.....

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ruphinaAug. 23, 1211:53 AM

solarnow- the point is that they are anything but "affordable". Without the cash donations, labor donation, window donations, other help from local businesses, and the subsidies for the solar panels and probably the geothermal units, the houses would end up being crackerbox size for McMansion cost. Bill G.

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kusstAug. 23, 1212:07 PM

Beware - The EPA is involved in pushing "sustainable" projects. This is just code for turning the suburbs into urban housing instead of letting market forces work. AKA Social engineering, and wealth redistribution. They are holding the free market hostage, coming to a community near you. be afraid, be very afraid. Big brother is watching and will soon dictate what society should look like whether you like it or not.

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