Montana Chapter of USGBC Honors MSU-Industry Project with Sustainability Award

A collaborative project representing both Montana State University and members of industry was honored recently with a sustainability award from the Montana chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council.

The REHAU Montana ecosmart House received an honor award/special jury award for leveraging emerging technologies in the commercial building category. The award was presented at the chapter’s annual meeting held this winter in Big Sky. A total of nine winning projects were recognized at the meeting for exemplifying the principles of sustainability and energy efficiency in their design.

The REHAU Montana ecosmart house is a residential house designed to use minimal energy. Located in Bozeman, the house is the result of a diverse team. The inspiration for the work was forged in 2008 by MSU alumnus Bill Hoy, a Washington, D.C.-based architect, and MSU’s College of Arts and Architecture. Financial backing and industry support was brought by MSU alumna Kitty Saylor, who was then president and CEO of REHAU North America and who is now chief of staff of the MSU Alumni Foundation. REHAU makes polymer-based products and systems for energy-efficient buildings.

The project provided an opportunity for MSU students and faculty members to be involved in a real-world design and construction project. Students from diverse disciplines contributed, including architecture students who turned concept sketches into architectural drawings, business students who studied the return on investment of the various components of the house, and engineering students who contributed to the design of the heating and cooling systems. Meanwhile, the entire process was documented by students in the MSU School of Film and Photography.

The house, which was completed in 2012, contains multiple features that minimize energy use while maximizing comfort and livability. For example, window glass designed by MSU chemistry alumnus Harlan Byker automatically tints when heated by sunlight, thus reducing glare and overheating.

More than 300 temperature sensors throughout the building allow fine-scale monitoring of heating and cooling performance. Data from the sensors helped MSU researchers learn how each component contributed to the overall efficiency of the house. Results from the evaluations were shared freely among contractors, homebuilders and industry professionals.

Also recognized for contributions to the REHAU Montana ecosmart house were Keystone Architects, architect; REHAU Construction in conjunction with MSU, corporate sponsor; Energy One, energy consultant; Kath Williams + Associates, LEED consultant; Tollefson Builders, general contractor; and Bill and Wanda Hoy, owners.

The second annual Montana USGBC Sustainability Awards drew participation from architectural, engineering and construction professionals from across the state. Sustainability criteria for the competition were modeled on the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED rating system.


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