Housing a Green House

By: Kelly Creswell Email
By: Kelly Creswell Email

Rockingham County will house one of the newest green houses in the Valley. The Board of Supervisors recently approved a special permit to allow a James Madison University graduate student to start up a self-sustainable home as a research project.

The student hopes this is only a jumping off point for more green building in the Valley. JMU students will be living in the house for a year to research how effective the self-sustainable home is. In the end, they hope it will teach the community how to be environmentally friendly.

"Well, I came from northern Virginia where growth was just out of control, and now you're seeing a lot of repercussions of that and not doing things environmentally friendly," says Zach Fettig, who started his own business, Shenandoah Sustainable Technologies.

Combine his business with an education from the Integrated Science and Technology Center at JMU, and he is a grad student turning his idea into reality. Now he's trying to commercialize a self-sustainable housing system.

"What I'm doing here is making a self-sustained house for the average home buyer that's affordable, and frees you from the overbearing costs of electricity, natural gas, and often times, sewer problems too," says Fettig.

Fettig also says you won't even have to adjust your normal lifestyle, despite the house not being connected to an electric grid and using a geo-thermal heat pump, which uses heat from the ground and continually recycles it.

Paying for utilities such as heat and electricity will seem non-existent in this house. Fettig's former teacher, Jim Barnes, has been helping him along with the project, and he says this project not only takes learning from the classroom into the real world, but it will also help the Valley grow in a smart way.

"We will have the right kinds of companies coming into Harrisonburg, Rockingham County, and we will not only have that, we will be helping our local citizens to live longer and better through environmentally friendly conditions here," says Barnes.

From a city standpoint, by having more companies invest in this area, it puts Harrisonburg on the map for not only being a friendly city, but also a green one. The foundation and the house will go up at the end of January. Students will start living there and doing their research in August.

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