First “Passive Home” In Brookings Opens Its Doors


BROOKINGS, SD-   It feels like a homecoming party.  For six South Dakota State University Graduate students, this is their “dream house'” coming to life.

“At the time, we were just excited to be able to design something that would be built period in school. A lot of times you get a design, but a lot of times its theoretical and you’re just making a design,” says SDSU Graduate Spencer Sommer.

Back in 2015, Governor Dennis Aauggard approached SDSU’s Department of Architecture to design the single family, eco-friendly home.  Governor Dauggard believes passive homes are “the leading edge of building science.”  He told SDSU this as an opportunity not just for the town, but for the Department of Architecture as well.

“I think your School of Architecture should include it as part of the curriculum and I’m willing to give you money to help infuse that into the curriculum along with giving you money to apply it through experiential learning to actually design and build a building, sell it and do it again,” says Daugaard.

The Department of Economic Development gave the university grant money for the “Passive Home Project” in 2016.   The job for the grad students was to design and build a house that met passive standards.

Sommer explains, “The house is just very energy efficient. We wanted to focus on making a nice house while reaching that certification.”

Some of the features include high levels of insulation and high quality of windows and doors in order to keep the energy in the house.   Six graduate students started with just a blue print and a vision.  Now their picture turns into a reality.

“A lot of students never get the chance to see a project built until well out of school. To have all six of us been able to work on project that was built a year after we graduated was pretty awesome,” says Sommer.

Governor Daugaard says this house is only the beginning, but that all depends on what the consumers want in a house.  Do they want a beautiful or functional home?

“Consumers will chose one without the other. They’ll decide rather than have good windows, they’re gonna have a granite counter top and then they’ll have lousy energy efficiency for the rest of the years of those windows,” says Daugaard.

Governor Daugaard hopes this home encourages future consumers to be energy smart when choosing a functional and sustainable home.

This house is officially on the market.  A new group of Graduate Students is designing a second “passive” house, which will be built right next to the first.  They hope to use the profits from this home for the second  project.

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