Students Build Net Zero House in Colorado — 6 Comments

  1. Good Morning Kelly,

    My name is Cillian Liam Barrett. I work for Habitat for Humanity in Gunnison, Colorado. Thanks for publishing such a fantastic article! It is wonderful to see projects such as this happening with students in the educational realm. The building industry in the US has long needed an influx of fresh energy and new, truly sustainable ways to approach the multifaceted challenges of climate change and housing needs. It is great to see that happening and to see folks like yourself giving it good press.

    I live in Gunnison County, Colorado which has a very similar climate to Fraser. Historically, the heating demand is almost identical. Also, the county has one ski town economy, Crested Butte, and an adjacent town that is more affordable and rurally focused, Gunnison. That is where Habitat for Humanity Gunnison Valley [HHGV] has focused its construction.

    In 2020, HHGV completed a 1,000sqft all-electric home with a 5.2kw solar array which produces twice as much energy as it uses in the dead of winter. Land, contractor fee and all subs included, the cost was $230k or $230/sqft. We mostly used local materials such as lumber, clay, straw and cellulose. We focused on local resources to feed our local economy, reduce our carbon/ecological footprint and to create/strengthen our community network. Our embodied energy is very low compared to a conventional build before the home even was occupied. We have extensive monitoring of our envelope and systems including; power consumption/production, Indoor Air Quality [IAQ], water usage, light quality and temperature/humidity.

    I would love to connect with the program and folks involved with this build to share our experience and to learn from theirs. Can you please reply with contact information? I can be reached at;

    hearthdesignbuild AT or Hearth Design Build on Facebook

    I am always happy to chat about this exciting frontier of construction!

    Many Thanks,


  2. $ 366 per sq ft for land and house does not seem affordable
    We need too do a lot better
    The best and most affordable housing is Pumicecrete
    Built for a fraction of the cost and time
    Pumicecrete homes are built with 3 materials
    Pumice cement and water

    • Agreed on the expense. I’d be interested to know the cost breakdowns including purchase price of land, cost for well and septic (I’m assuming the house is not on public utilities).

      That is a beautiful house. The dark, mottled siding accented by the natural wood finish under the eaves looks great.

      Am I finding correct information showing 8′ TJI wall studs at half the cost of Larsen trusses?

      • Affordability is often relative to local costs and the real estate market; this was in a very high end market.
        The TJI studs are likely less expensive than Larsen tresses would be.

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