Minnesotans Mark and Kate Hanson believe in efficiency and a better environment, so it makes sense they’d seek out a more sustainable design for their new home. But the new net zero home they moved into this fall, which generates enough energy to power both of their cars, goes beyond what they expected.
“We feel healthier and more comfortable in the house,” says Mark. “It’s hard to pick my favorite feature.”
Built in Roseville, a first-ring suburb of Minneapolis, their new 2,400-square-foot home boasts a simple, streamlined silhouette, helping it in with the nearby bungalows and ranch-style ramblers in the neighborhood (even with the rows of solar panels on the roof). Nicknamed “Ohm Sweet Home” by the architect, the Hanson’s new home takes advantage of passive solar principles, geothermal technology, and solar energy production to realize the owner’s goals for self-sufficiency, all in a frame that doesn’t sacrifice aesthetics for efficiency.
“I’m really hoping this becomes more of a standard,” says Marc Sloot of SALA Architects, the project architect. “We can really use projects like this to design and build more efficient homes and set expectations for homes like this.”
The homeowners didn’t have a particular site in mind when they reached out to Sloot to design their sustainable dream house, which gave the architect the opportunity to find the perfect spot in terms of positioning and solar gain. Built with 12-inch thick walls for extra installation, custom windows from Andersen, and a detached garage for the couple’s electric car, the new home was roughly 10-15 percent more expensive than a typical suburban home.
One of the beauties for the couple is that while the home boasts significant environmental credentials, which Mark chronicled on a blog about the building process, the green features aren’t in their face.
“It’s a home like any other,” says Kate. “We really don’t need to think about it.”
While they estimate it’ll take a dozen years to make back the extra cost via energy savings, the home’s energy plan also factors in the cost of charging their cars, meaning a large part of the Hanson’s carbon footprint is being covered by the panels on their rooftop.
“One of the big goals of the project was to show that a house like that can be beautiful,” says Sloot. “We cherish and preserve things that are beautiful, and that helps keep a lot of material out of the landfill.”