Affordable Green


Homes powered and made comfortable by solar and geothermal are inexpensive to operate, but these systems are seldom associated with affordable-cost housing.


The St. Croix Valley Habitat for Humanity Eco Village, River Falls, Wisc., teamed up with local and national companies to build truly affordable and really green homes for Habitat families.

Four families are about to move into their Eco Village homes in what will be an 18-home Habitat Community built on five acres. River Falls donated the land, which is near public transportation as well as pedestrian and bike paths. Eco Village will include a community center, community gardens, and walkways as well as photovoltaic solar on each home and a shared geothermal system to heat the homes. Much of the landscape will also be edible. The goal is to achieve carbon negativity and net-zero energy use.

“Green and sustainable building practices go hand-in-hand with Habitat’s mission to improve the lives of low-income families,” said Larry Gluth, Habitat for Humanity International’s senior vice president for U.S. and Canada, in article in Habitat’s magazine. “By combining durable construction techniques with energy efficiency, we provide our families with homes that are safer, longer-lasting, and less costly to maintain.”

Homes are also built to be storm/tornado resistant. Durable concrete and structural panel-built homes are designed to protect residents from severe weather. Homes feature residential fire sprinkler systems, which not only save lives but also slash the cost of insurance premiums.

Built to Passive House standards, the homes are three- and four-bedroom single-family homes and duplexes. They feature high-tech, energy-efficient windows donated by Andersen Windows. Many Andersen employees volunteered to help build the homes.

Eco Village’s Eco-efficiency Details include reducing the negative consequences of natural resources. On-site renewable energy options include:
• Photovoltaic arrays located on the south hill and home roofs.
• Electric car photovoltaic charging station at the community center.
• Solar hot water arrays located on home roofs.
• Rainwater harvest for community gardens.
• State-of-the-art window technology, environmental performance and affordability.

When complete, the community hopes to reduce potable water use by 50 percent through rain/storm water harvest application (barrels/cisterns) in landscaping/gardening, divert at least 90 percent of the construction waste from landfills, and
locally source at least 25 percent of building materials.

The community hopes to reach LEED for Homes Platinum certification LEED-ND Gold.

View the community progress by logging on here on the Earth Cam images.

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