Passive house unleashes creativity, innovation

Eric Sandbulte/Register: Above, visitors tour the outside of the passive house, seen here from the southeast. Designed by SDSU Department of Architecture students, the project utilized grant funds from the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. Below, people also got to check out the interior of the home. There were a variety of posters throughout the house noting the different features implemented to achieve its high-efficiency and sustainability status.

BROOKINGS – The little house at 902 Third Ave. might have a simple, minimalist look about it, but there’s a lot more to this house than meets the eye.

The house is what’s called a passive house, and its design and materials emphasize ultra-efficiency in energy consumption regardless of summer heat or winter cold. This is the first certified passive house in the state.

The house was designed by South Dakota State University Department of Architecture students with Brookings Built Green serving as general contractor for the build.

SDSU had a ribbon cutting Monday to celebrate the completion of the project with a variety of speakers to celebrate the achievement.

SDSU Provost and Vice President for Student Affairs Dennis Hedge called the project “a tremendous learning opportunity for students” as it has allowed for the students to experience firsthand the principles and practices associated with energy efficiency, sustainability and affordability.

“We know again that when students are immersed in these types of learning environments and when they work as members of a team and solve challenges over time, those are the opportunities where creativity and innovation is truly unleashed, and it’s exciting for all of us at the university to be a part of this endeavor,” Hedge said.

SDSU President Barry Dunn echoed that sentiment, saying, “In higher education, everybody’s bragging about experiential learning, and this is experiential learning at its best.”

Dunn added, “What this represents to me is how change happens in society and our communities and how we live. I’m just so proud that SDSU is the driving force of that change.”

South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard remarked on his long-held interest in energy efficiency that he had incorporated even into his own home.

“I have been very interested in the idea of building as shelter. Sometimes in the era of consumerism and advertising and marketing, we lose sight of the fact that buildings are first and foremost shelter. And they become art, they become places where shelter is secondary to the art. Well, here, you’ve got a building that is both. It’s gorgeous art and yet it’s a science-based shelter,” Daugaard said.

Contact Eric Sandbulte at [email protected]


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