The Rural Studio’s 20K House Project was introduced to us on one of Passive House Accelerator’s Construction Tech Tuesdays. We didn’t know anything about the 20K House Project previous to attending Tuesday evening’s gathering.
…Really though…all the knowledge we had of this 20K House Project was the title, which intrigued us because it had the word “rural” in it. We thought, “Hey, we are rural! And it seems like they are bringing the Passive House standard to rural areas? That’s neat. We’ll listen in on this…”
Little did we realize how gosh darn awesome this project really was.
And it is more than just a singular project…it is a whole program. Based in rural Alabama, it is an academic, student-driven, community-centered, people conscious, environmentally aware, and fluid architecture program. This program revives the ethos of ‘home as the human habitat’ and the fundamental ‘why’ behind education with every single home they build.
Yeah. That’s right. Bringing back the purpose of education and the primal human necessity of home with local, cultural, and interpersonal relevance.
They are that awesome.
The great thing about presentations is that they force William and I to accomplish tasks we would rather procrastinate on. For example, the rendering William completed for our presentation to Pittsburgh’s Green Building Alliance was, at best, rough. For this next presentation we have coming up for Philadelphia’s Green Building United, we want people to really see this beautiful image of our home we have revolving around in our own heads.
That means we need to hunker down and pick interior materials and products. And if you are attempting to meet the Living Building Challenge, that does not result in: “oh, let’s just go to Home Depot and see what we find today…”
When I look for a fridge, I need to know where exactly it is manufactured, does it have a Declare Label, does the refrigerator use any HFCs or does it rely on R600a (which has a lower global warming potential), and is the refrigerator itself made with any Red List chemicals? Not to mention if the fridge comes in the color and design William wants…oh! And how much energy does it actually use?
On a rainy, rather dismal and slightly chilly day in early April, fifty little sprouts found a new home on my parents’ property.
Colorado Blue Spruces and Norway Spruces pricked and prodded the fingertips of those who set them upright in the soil.
Northern White Cedars, absolutely delectable to wandering deer, were placed in dirt and behind bars for their own good.
The shrubbery of American Hazelnut and Pink Lady Winterberry dug their roots amongst trees, in the hope of aiding a variety of wildlife.
Of the fifty trees and shrubs my lovely mother bought from our county’s Conservation District, a few may have been inadvertently left strewn about the forest floor…we had many pairs of happy hands helping us plant that day. One pair of hands, in particular, was so ecstatically determined that they resolved to carry random sprouts about in their arms…not gently, mind you. At least, not ‘gentle’ in the sense that they recognized they were holding something fragile. Perhaps more ‘gentle’ in the recognition that they held something important, and in a 6-year old enthusiasm, it was something fun and grand to be a part of.
We did not take any photos of the process of planting~ we were having too much fun planting! Well, and attempting to finish before sunset.
But, if you were to have arrived on my parents’ property at just the right moment…
Welcome to the seventh and final Petal of the Living Building Challenge. These blogs have been long and many, and we appreciate you sticking with us as we navigate the twenty Imperatives. The past six Petals of Place, Water, Energy, Health and Happiness, Materials, and Equity have shown just how challenging building this home is going to be. To freshen your memory on those petals and their imperatives, we’ll show you that chart one last time.
The article you’re about to read was written during the COVID-19 Pandemic, at the end of the year 2020. That being said, keep the pandemic in mind as we look at this standard, because I think it’s unbelievably relevant. It’s important to have a healthy home in the first place, but that much more important during a pandemic…
We have delved into what it takes to meet standards set forth by the Living Building Challenge, for the petals of place, water, and energy. Below is a visual refresher of all seven petals and their imperatives.