Text description provided by the architects. Located in Kansas City, Kansas, this environmentally conscious, modern home performs completely off the grid in an area desperately in need of revitalization. Being the first LEED Platinum home in the Kansas City Metropolitan area, the building serves as an example of sustainable practice and living for buyers who desire life in the city close to the urban core. This house is a combination of passive strategies and active systems which visually call out the environmental standards to which the design aspires.
The Sustainable Residence is designed by Studio 804, a not‐for profit design/build program that serves as the final design studio for graduate students at the University of Kansas School of Architecture and Urban Planning. The student led process creates prefabricated architecture while thoughtfully responding to global problems of density and sustainability using smaller scale, local solutions.
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A site with a broad south exposure was chosen to support the passive solar effort. Additionally, operable windows provided along the lower southern strip of glazing and rooftop skylights allow for stack ventilation throughout the interior. The entire site was planted with a drought-resistant fescue sod that is highly recommended in Kansas as a replacement for conventional turf. All hardscape surfaces surrounding the exterior of the house are porous materials such as pervious concrete, which permits the rainwater to seep into the water table.
Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant
The Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant, located between Lawrence and Kansas City, was established in 1941 as one of the world’s largest powder and propellant plants, later playing a historic role providing ammunition during World War II and the Korean and Vietnam conflicts. The ammunition plant, now an excess federal property, is being rehabilitated for public use through Sunflower Redevelopment. Of the original five thousand retired ammunition buildings, over one thousand are designated free of contaminants.
The rights were secured to harvest the 70-year-old Douglas Fir from Sunflower. The reclaimed boards were used for interior walls and structural support.
The residence's ability to be off the grid eliminates the homeowner’s consistent dependency on natural resources such as coal and gas, decreasing the building’s overall impact on the environment. The house’s total energy needs are reduced by the use of renewable energy sources, including a wind turbine and photovoltaic solar panels, as a means of power. The use of low-flow valve fixtures, along with a rainwater reclamation system, allows the residence to rely less on public water resources. The combination of a radiant floor system and concrete thermal mass minimizes the daily temperature fluctuation. Also, the design’s use of a geothermal heat pump, Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV), and highly efficient HVAC improves the effectiveness of all the sustainable systems.
Wood was the natural choice for building due to its economy, ease of assembly, and speed of erection. FSC-certified wood was used in the framing and sheathing of all walls, roof, and floor in order to ensure the product was properly harvested. Each framing member was precisely measured and cut to achieve a waste factor of only 4.37%. If short anywhere within the calculations, reclaimed lumber from Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant was to be used in its place.
Environmentally Preferred Materials
Regionally manufactured, reclaimed, and recycled content materials were used throughout the design. FSC lumber and the reclaimed lumber from Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant were used to frame the walls. Also, the Galvalume metal roofing panels are recyclable and contain a minimum of 25% recycled content. The Xcell blown cellulose insulation was manufactured locally from recycled paper fiber. The concrete mix included 30% fly ash, a byproduct of the coal industry.
The majority of the wood used throughout the interior framing is recycled from the deconstruction of the former Sunflower ammunition facility and framed on two-foot centers to reduce material usage. FSC-certified Jatoba hardwood flooring is featured in the upstairs loft and bedroom spaces and continues to wrap the kitchen ceiling to achieve a visual link between spaces. All countertops and bathroom surrounds are manufactured from a recycled paper composite material that is highly durable, low maintenance, and stain resistant.
The vertical application of the FSC-certified tropical Cumaru wood rainscreen wraps the entire exterior of the residence. Precisely detailed, twenty-four photovoltaic panels are located on the southern roof plane flush with the Cumaru rainscreen. Rainwater is collected in the remaining 50% of the roof along the north side and stored in an underground cistern. The rainscreen uses the wood barrier to compartmentalize the air cavity, thereby allowing rapid air pressure equalization and minimal moisture intrusion.