Natalie Pace Blogs
Learn how the latest green trend equals savings of up to 90 percent on your heating bill.
When Susan Guthridge-Gould and her husband Chris Gould had the opportunity to build a house in Stuyvesant, New York, it wasn’t your run-of-the-mill home-shopping process. Her property had been in the family for over three centuries, so there was pressure to build something that stayed true to the land. And the opportunity to build a family home had come decades after a hard-fought battle — fighting a utility company to keep her homeland from becoming a nuclear power plant. Susan describes what happened, saying, “I was 12, on my way back from church camp, when we found out that guys had come to the front door and told my parents that our property was up for eminent domain.”
Most (94 out of 104) of the nuclear reactors in the United States were put into operation 20-40 years ago. The majority of the 104 nuclear power plants are on the East Coast.
After that life-shattering day in 1976, court battles followed for the next three years, with helicopters flying overhead frequently. There were nonstop hearings and sworn testimonies. College funds were drained to pay for attorneys. Family projects included spelling out “No Nukes” with hay bales to be seen from the air. Worry and stress were constant, particularly for Susan’s mother, whose family had owned the land for at least seven generations. Bickering raged between the utilities on who gets how much, at what price and questions from the judge concerning, “Is that much power really needed?”
And then the Three Mile Island accident occurred — on March 28, 1979 — bringing everything to a screeching halt.
It’s easy to understand why 36 years later, Susan was still asking that question when she went to design her dream home. “Is that much power really needed?”
According to Susan, “How great would it be if energy is more abundant because we build (or remodel) in smart ways? That’s a step towards a cleaner and safer world free from the risks of radioactivity, air and water pollution or dependence on foreign oil.”
And the quest for that answer led her straight to the doorstep of the Hudson Passive Project, a home designed by renowned architect Dennis Wedlick, built by the Bill Stratton Building Company and realized with the support of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). HPP is the first certified passive house in New York. The home is designed and constructed to reduce energy consumption — even in the frigid climate of Hudson Valley, New York — by up to 90 percent.
I was a little skeptical that the heat of humans (with a little help from the sun) could power an insulated house (Matrix-style), until I took a tour of the Hudson Passive Project home on a crisp fall day. The outside temperature was in the 50s, and the temperature inside was fresh and comfortable, in the 70s — without any heating, outside of the sun streaming through the south-facing windows. There were two dogs inside. The “lungs” of the house — a smart ventilation system — swapped fresh outside air in for the stale scent of smelly dog, and in the process even heated the in-flowing air. According to Jordan Dentz, the vice president at The Levy Partnership, an engineering firm that monitors the energy usage at the Hudson Passive Project for NYSERDA, “Our Hudson Passive Project last winter used just a small fraction (on the order of 1 percent) of the heating energy that would otherwise have been required of a home built without passive features.”
See pics of this gorgeous, smart energy home and read the rest of this blog on my HuffingtonPost page.