Rehau Inc., a maker of polymer-based building products, has teamed up with Montana State University to build a home with sustainable building technologies in Bozeman, Montana.
Officials broke ground in late April on the project, which will be completed in three years. The ecosmart house is intended to show the benefits of maximizing energy efficiency and comforts brought to residents through the latest technologies.
We see this as a pilot project for many more to come, Rehau North America CEO Kitty Saylor said in an April 30 telephone interview. We'd like to replicate the project with lessons learned. We'd like to work with other universities.
Officials have been planning and designing the home for one year, said Terry Beaubois, director of the Creative Research Lab at Montana State University in Bozeman.
Officials will use the home as an ongoing, real-world learning and teaching tool for students and for those in the construction industry who are looking for ways to meet the latest certification standards. In the construction industry, several bodies issue certification standards for green building and sustainability, including the National Association of Home Builders; Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, known as LEED; the green-building rating system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council; and the Institute for Building Environment and Energy Conservation.
The home will be constructed with radiant heating and cooling, vinyl window and door systems, structural insulated panels and insulating concrete forms. It also will incorporate designs to make it friendly to those with disabilities. Vinyl is being incorporated as one of the more viable materials in sustainable home design, officials said.
PVC building products are very durable, which in and of itself conserves resources, Saylor said. Durability is certainly an important environmental benefit. In terms of the life cycle of the product, PVC can have a life cycle well beyond 100 years.
When it is complete, an alumnus of the Montana State School of Architecture will live in the home. The Creative Research Lab will continue research and data collection. Officials also are working with Montana State's film school.
The film school is involved because out of this project we want a documentary just to tell the story, Saylor said.
Beaubois said such collaborations between universities and companies are critical to the future of education in the U.S.
In the case of our Rehau Montana ecosmart house project, we here at the Creative Research Lab have been able to engage students, during the academic portion of their careers, in the research and the application of research information related to design, engineering, and construction of a house that features sustainability, low-energy use, and disability design that will be built, tested and lived in, he wrote in a May 5 e-mail.
This real-world experience provides the students with exactly what employers say they want in a graduate someone who can work on a team made up of different disciplines and can work together to find solutions to problems, he said.
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