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July 18 2013 15:03

Eco Experience will feature 2 new homes: Gen Y Eco House and Home Energy Exhibit

Contact: Pam McCurdy, 651-757-2559

St. Paul, Minn. — New house or old house, come to the Eco Experience and learn from the experts. The Gen Y Eco House and the Home Energy Exhibit will show you how simple it can be to make energy-saving changes in your home and see what is cutting edge for green remodeling or building.

Gen Y Eco House: Home ownership is still important for members of Generation Y, but they aren’t looking for their parents’ house. Students in a University of Minnesota class recently found that millennials consider home ownership to be very important but need their house to fit their lifestyle. The students used their survey’s insights to create the Gen Y Eco House that will be displayed at the Eco Experience at the Minnesota State Fair.

The students’ investigation found that Millennials want a majority of their home dedicated to gathering spaces. However, they consider the dining room the least utilized space, possibly because they report cooking just three or four meals at home per week. Generation Y is also concerned with energy conservation and renewable energy, so the students designed a house that reflects these needs and their knowledge of sustainability principles.

The small size of the house increases its sustainability by requiring fewer materials in construction, and creating a smaller footprint for reduced heating and cooling. The smaller total area challenged the students to come up with a way to provide all the amenities of a larger home while keeping their house sustainable.

Their solution: the SuperWall. The Gen Y Eco House features a SuperWall, a main interior wall that contains all the technology for living: electricity, plumbing and cooking. The SuperWall includes folding furniture and sliding, rotating walls that can be used to conceal private spaces or create a larger room for entertaining. The house also incorporates an outdoor patio for increased living space, solar PV panels and recycled materials.

The University of Minnesota College of Design students are constructing the house and will staff the exhibit during the Eco Experience. Their instructor, James Garrett Junior, AIA, from 4rm+ula architecture firm, led the students in creating a sustainable home.

Home Energy Exhibit: The Minnesota Department of Commerce has created the Home Energy exhibit to showcase 11 new displays on energy efficiency and renewable energy. The exhibit will highlight ideas for energy conservation in the kitchen, basement, family room and more.

A mini model of a house will explain how a house “works.” Come with your questions about your house and an energy expert will help answer them. They’ll even help you find out which projects to prioritize and where to start. The exhibit will also explain where your community energy comes from, including the sources of electricity and current usage patterns.

If you’re looking for smaller-scale improvement ideas, stop by the thermostats to learn how to pick the right thermostat for your home and wallet. The display includes manual, programmable and smart thermostats. Then evaluate brightness and warmth of new LED light bulbs, and compare them to incandescent and compact fluorescent lamp options. You can also stop to pick up a free toilet leak detection tablet and low-flow bathroom faucet aerator that can help you reduce wasted water and save money.

It’s not just under-the-hood changes that can improve your home. Check out the interior design in the mini-home. The rooms will be made up entirely of reused items— from the furniture to the flooring and lighting. Plus, see Minnesota-made green building products from Natural Built Home or take a pledge to use Energy Star products in your kitchen. All pledge participants will be entered to win a $500 gift certificate from Warners’ Stellian to help the winner buy a new Energy Star appliance.

There are also plenty of things you can do outside your home. Learn about wind energy and solar power from Windustry and the Minnesota Renewable Energy Society. Read about large commercial and small, residential wind power. Plus, discover where the best wind resources are in Minnesota. Then learn about using solar panels to generate electricity for your home, heat your water or distribute heat into the house.

The Department of Commerce has organized the event with its partners CenterPoint Energy, Warners’ Stellian, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Natural Built Home, ReUSE Minnesota, Center for Energy and Environment, Minnesota Building Performance Association, Minnesota Renewable Energy Society and Windustry.

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