Energy efficient home unveiled in Goldbug
Officials toured the inside of the home Monday.
What do you get when you form a partnership that includes 33 entities, including local, state and federal entities, besides the inevitable mountain of paperwork and bureaucracy that is sure to follow.
The answer is many things, not the least of which is an energy efficient house in the Goldbug community that is designed to use only $1.63 worth of electricity per day.
For first-time home buyers Dennis and Billie Reynolds and their three-year-old son, Gabriel, it means getting an affordable new home, which they can afford thanks in part to reduced utility costs.
For houseboat manufacturer Stardust Ventures LLC, which had seen its business decimated by the economic recession, it meant being able to branch out into a new market. For their employees, it meant jobs.
"It really does three things. It provides an energy efficient home. It provides to people, who cannot afford a big home, an affordable house. Thirdly, it puts people to work in the houseboat industry, which has been decimated by the economy," said Kentucky Highlands Investments Corporation Chairperson Bill Singleton.
Several of the community partners involved in the project were on hand Monday morning for the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Houseboat to Energy Efficient Residences (HBEER) prototype in Whitley County.
The home is so energy efficient in large part because it is made of six structurally insulated panels.
The modest 1,035 square-foot home includes a wooden porch on the front of the residence. When you enter the home you instantly see the kitchen complete with new appliances, and a small living room area to the right.
To the left on either side of the kitchen are hallways, which go back into the two bedrooms inside the home. Between the two hallways is a utility room connected to the bathroom for the home. The home is complete with several wooden inset cabinets for storage.
The location for the home, which is located off US25W between the Whitley County Extension Service Office and Star Baptist Church, was selected because Kentucky Highlands wanted a location in a rural area that was powered by a rural electric coop power.
A similar home was dedicated last year in Monticello.
Another similar project is underway in southern Whitley County, which is in the Jellico Electric grid. This site was chosen because Jellico Electric gets it power from the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), which was part of that grant requirement.
The Goldbug house was largely constructed in two-segments, which were transported to Whitley County by semi-trucks in December, and hoisted onto the already prepared foundation by a crane.
Since then, contractors have been working to hook up utilities and finish details on the project, which couldn't be done ahead of time.
"We are so excited. We give all the praise and glory to God. We wouldn't have it if wasn't for him," Dennis Reynolds said as the home was being delivered in December.
Means much more
Several other community partners noted that the project accomplishes more than just the three things Singleton noted. Exactly what depended on the hat that each speaker was wearing at the ceremony.
The University of Kentucky College of Design and the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research largely designed the home.
For Greg Luhan, Assistant Dean of Research for the U.K. College of Design, it meant hands on experience for students to blend architecture design with local materials and modern energy-efficient standards, systems and technologies.
For Whitley County Judge-Executive Pat White Jr. the project means high-tech renovations being implemented in southeastern Kentucky and Whitley County.
"This project is certainly something that I am proud of. I'm proud to see that this family is going to benefit from this technology," he said. "I'm proud to see jobs created for the ailing houseboat industry.
"I'm proud to see our University of Kentucky students working on this project and learning from this project. This project is more than just one home. We are bringing skills and ideas to our region to help educate our construction trade on how to do things better."
White noted five homes are under construction in Emlyn, which will be completed later this year.
What makes those homes distinct are that they will produce energy and are so-energy efficient, that the owners will get a check from the electric company rather than a bill.
Bruce Chestnut, Managing Member of Stardust Ventures LLC, noted that the company employed 350 people and built 85 houseboats a year before the economy tanked. Afterwards, the company was down to 15 employees building one boat at a time.
"Because of what we learned from HBEER, we built the Triangle Café in Triangle Park in downtown Lexington," he said. "We constructed that using very green technology and efficiency that we learned from the HBEER project."
Chestnut noted that company leaders are out west currently talking about building these kind of energy efficient homes for an area that has seen an influx in population because of a boon in oil production.
"We have taken the knowledge that we learned from the University of Kentucky and from what we have been doing to heart, and from what we have been doing with our partners and we are putting it not only in houseboats but in other projects," he said.
The company is now back up to about 60 employees working on six boats.
Danielle Smoot, district communications director for U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, noted that the project had a side impact on the economy besides the number of jobs directly related to it.
She said that more than 70 percent of the products and materials used in the construction were from Kentucky.
While touring tornado ravaged areas recently, Smoot said Rogers noted how great it would be if those destroyed homes could be replaced with energy efficient homes like the one in Whitley County.
Moving day next month
Leah Norvell, a Family Worker with Southern Tier Housing Corporation, said that the Reynolds' family hopes to move into its home by the first of May.
Some last minute paperwork, a few finishing touches and an inspection are all that remains.
The prototype home cost nearly $130,000 to produce, but is being sold to the couple for $100,000.
Officials said the idea with the prototype was to prove the concept, and that they expect the price to drop if the homes start being mass produced.
Community partners on the project include: the Appalachian Regional Commission; City of Monticello; Cumberland Valley National Bank: Cumberland Valley RECC; East Kentucky Power Cooperative; FAHE; Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati; General Electric; Greg Sloditskie-Modular Building Solutions; Josh Ayoroa; Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development; Kentucky Department of Housing, Building and Construction; Kentucky Department of Energy and Environmental Cabinet; Kentucky Department of Local Government; Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation; Kentucky Housing Corporation; Office of the Governor of Kentucky; Rural Local Initiative Support Corporation; Stardust Cruisers; South Kentucky RECC; Southern Tier Housing Corporation; Tennessee Valley Authority; University of Kentucky; University of the Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research; University of Kentucky College of Design; U.S. Department of Agriculture and Rural Development; U.S. Department of Energy-Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant-Recovery; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Community Services; U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; and Whitley County Fiscal Court.
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