For the first time in its almost four decade history, Habitat for Humanity has built its first home that runs on solar energy for hot water as well as heating and cooling. The home was finished at the end of last week and was constructed in north Minneapolis by the volunteer group along with architecture students from the University of Minnesota.
The architecture students designed the house to produce at least as much energy as it consumes, making it what is known as a "net zero" home. The Habitat for Humanity house is the beginning of a much larger-scale project that aims to construct at least 100 energy efficient homes within the next five years.
While the average Habitat for Humanity house has a value of $160,000, the eco-friendly model cost $213,000 to construct. According to a report from Minnesota Public Radio, the additional costs of the house partly came from insulation. The energy efficient model is insulated three times as much as a standard home in an effort to ensure that no air leaks out.
The architecture students took several steps to ensure the home was as efficient as possible. The windows were angled at certain positions to ensure they would get the maximum amount of sunlight during the day. The home is taller with a steep roof to allow the solar panels better access to the sun. And it was equipped with an energy recovery ventilator that extracts the heat from air being filtered out of the home and circulating it back inside.