Home Designs That Changed America

I found it interesting to watch the PBS special “10 Houses That Changed America.” In this program, the two houses that reminded me the most of our new passive solar home in southern Colorado, were the Taos Pueblo from ancient times, and the Glidehouse. 

taos-pueblo

Ancient pueblo-style homes faced south for the best winter exposure to the warmth of the sun, and had thick adobe walls to help maintain indoor temperatures year round. This design provided much needed warmth in the winter, and cooler temperatures in the summer months.

glidehouseThen I learned about the Glidehouse, which I had never heard of before. This is now built prefab in a factory, but was originally the architect Michelle Kaufmann’s attempt at creating a reasonably priced green home.

What did that mean to her? She wished to create an energy efficient home that maintained its indoor temperature through its unique design. With excellent insulation and many south-facing doors and windows to add solar heat in the winter, the overhanging roof on the south helps to keep the sun out in the summer. With lots of windows facing south, very little indoor lighting is needed during the day. She also installed a low-flow water system. Kaufmann’s main idea was to conserve natural resources, collaborate with nature, and create a healthier, more comfortable way to live.

4052 Comanche DriveUnlike our own custom-built passive solar home, the Glidehouse does not include a specially-designed direct-gain slab that collects heat during the winter months, and then releases it at night, greatly decreasing the need for additional heat. We also spent the extra dollars for spray, polyurethane foam to insulate our outside walls, providing the best R-value for both winter and summer.

IMGP4148I am happy to see more Americans who are concerned about energy efficiency in their living situation, not just to save money, but to live more in harmony with the earth. I love living so close to nature, and waking up to see bunnies coming up to my sliding door to look in in the morning.

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7 thoughts on “Home Designs That Changed America

  1. I wish I could afford to live in a green home, but I’m lucky to be able to live in a rented apartment without proper insulation. It makes for expensive winter electric heating. I will have to be content to dream as I read your blog. 🙂

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  2. I’m sure I wouldn’t be living here and learning so much about passive solar without Mike’s lifelong dedication to this concept. He’s been dreaming about creating a home like this since he was a kid! I feel so lucky to have met him at age 49 and learned so much in the process of creating this home! It still seems like a dream to me some days…

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  3. We tried building an “ecological house” on a budget years ago – and failed. We were young, idealistic, and didn’t know what we were doing. I am still interested in those types of houses, though, and I am happy to see there is a prefab version available now. If only there had been one in 1981.

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