The Show-Me House

Seeing truly is believing. So say builders when it comes to teaching buyers about new building technologies.

By Meghan Stromberg, Senior Editor | June 30, 2004


The Discovery House, built by Boulder, Colo.-based McStain Neighborhoods, features solar hot water heating panels, a ventilating cupola and whole-house fans to exhaust hot air from the attic, and an advanced perimeter foundation drain system. Inside, low-VOC paints and a central vacuum system contribute to cleaner indoor air, the flooring is natural linoleum or Lyptus (a sustainably harvested eucalyptus hardwood hybrid), and a heat recovery ventilator captures heating or cooling energy from outgoing stale air.

Seeing truly is believing. So say builders when it comes to teaching buyers about new building technologies.

Building a demonstration home with labeled products and systems, text and/or graphic signs describing technologies, manufacturer collateral, behind-the-wall cutaways and knowledgeable staff to fill in the blanks has several benefits. Potential home buyers can see how the innovative technologies the builder uses will affect the performance of their new home, save money on utilities and perhaps even match their value system by being "green." That may drive - or at least close - the sale.

An added perk for the industry: Other builders can learn from them, too. Here are a few to check out if you're in the area:

  • The Discovery House at High Plains Village at Centerra, Loveland, Colo.: McStain Neighborhoods' Discovery House features an irrigation controller that captures local weather data to adjust irrigation flow and a nylon mesh rain screen behind the home's exterior siding to prevent moisture intrusion.
  • The Green Demonstration Home at Summerset at Frick Park, Pittsburgh, Pa.: Built by Montgomery & Rust according to performance standards created with Building America team IBACOS, it includes energy-efficient lighting, soy-based expanding foam insulation and Carrier Corp.'s Infinity System, which integrates and manages temperature, humidity, air flow, ventilation, indoor air quality and zoning.
  • Madera, Gainesville, Fla.: The 2,800-square-foot house at the 88-home community of Madera acts as a model and the sales center. Developer Green Trust LLC and the Building America team CARB chose insulating concrete forms, a SEER-16 Carrier air-conditioning unit, low-E windows and a Takagi tankless water heater.
  • Casa Verde at the Venetian Golf & River Club, Venice, Fla.: WCI's Casa Verde uses high-efficiency air filtration systems, solar tubes for natural lighting and water-conserving appliances in response to buyer demands.


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