By Art Holliday
WEBSTER GROVES, Mo. (KSDK) - As he tours the house at 215 Gray Avenue in Webster Groves, homebuilder Kim Hibbs describes it as a deep green home, full of the latest green technology, from solar panels on the roof, to a garage built for an electric car.
It's also known as an Active House, prototypes first built in Europe with the goal of energy efficient, sustainable products, and indoor air quality.
"This is a 98 percent efficient furnace the highest there is on the market today," said Hibbs. "This is our solar water heater, so the water is being heated by the photo voltaics, the solar panels on the roof."
Pointing at custom cabinets, Hibbs said, "Bamboo is a grass. It's fast growing. And when you use a product like this, you're not using real wood."
Even the skylights are smart.
"These skylights are actually tied into our heating and cooling system and if the conditions outside are right they'll automatically open up and let some of the stale air," he said.
The next evolution of home construction emphasizes lower utility costs. David Smith, the owner of the brand new house, expects to have zero energy costs.
"Relative to a lot of the older homes in this area that may not be quite as efficient," said Smith, "I figure we may save anywhere between $400 and a $1,000 a month in utility costs."
Hibbs emphasized those savings when trying to explain why homeowners should consider green technology.
"We tell people to use that money to send your kids to college or it's your weekly fun money," he said.
The Webster Groves house is also part laboratory. With the use of sensors to measure energy efficiency, the University of Missouri's Center for Sustainable Energy will study the house for a year as part of its research, according to project manager Matt Belcher.
"They're developing an energy efficiency masters program now and a lot of the information we're gathering is going right into that program development," Belcher said.
Next month is move in date for the Smith family, who didn't plan on building a green home.
"That's what gets me excited is ultimately saving money and living comfortably," he said.
If you're interested in learning more about the green technology at this Active House at 215 Gray Avenue, you can visit this weekend. If you're in the housing industry or media, there's an open house Friday from noon to 2 p.m. And there's an open house for the general public Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. You're asked to RSVP on Facebook at Active House.