The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

January 19, 2013

GreenTown Joplin, architecture students to design ‘eco-home’

By Wally Kennedy
Globe Staff Writer

JOPLIN, Mo. — By this time next year, Joplin should have a bona fide eco-home.

GreenTown Joplin is partnering with the Hammons School of Architecture at Drury University in Springfield to develop and construct a demonstration ‘eco-home’ in Joplin.

Nine Drury students will spend this semester researching and designing the home that will be used by GreenTown Joplin as an education center and office. Fundraising will take place this spring and summer. Construction is slated to begin this fall.

“We are really excited about this project,’’ said Traci Sooter, associate director of the architecture school at Drury. “GreenTown was born in Greensburg, Kan., after the devastating tornado there in 2007.

“They wanted to help build back with sustainability and do it in a way that is more responsible to the planet,’’ she said. “They want the rebuilding to have some disaster resilience as well.’’

Sooter said Drury feels fortunate that its school was tapped to help.

“This will give our students something to wrap their heads around,” she said. “They will learn from this process. It’s also a way for them to give back to the community. Giving back to the community is a high priority on this campus.’’

The nine students chose to work on the Joplin eco-home.

After the tornado, 35 students from the school designed and built the Volunteer Tribute garden in Cunningham Park.

Nancy Chikaraishi, an associate professor in the school, said, “At first, we will look broadly at Joplin and then seek community input. We will learn about what has happened to the community and the people of Joplin, and what it means for them to feel safe. What does home mean to them? This will be a dialogue that is open to the entire community.’’

Sooter and Chikaraishi said they have no idea what the eco-home will look like at this stage. It will be shaped by the community input and it will respond to the site in terms of the sun, wind, climate and terrain.

The systems to be used will feature sustainable products.

“We’re shooting for net zero,” Sooter said. “The home will produce all of the energy that it needs. We would not take energy off the grid.’’

The project will be open to local suppliers and vendors who want to support the effort and showcase their disaster-resistant and sustainable products to a broader market. The house probably will be a stop on an eco-tour.

The home will be dubbed the Monarch Eco-Home. The Monarch Cement Co. of Humboldt, Kan., parent company of Joplin Concrete, will provide seed funding for the project. Additional support will come from the Portland Cement Association and George Van Hoesen of Global Green Building, which will provide construction management and energy efficiency consulting.

The home will use a concrete wall system donated by TF Forming Systems, of Springfield. The system, known as vertical insulated concrete forms is designed to withstand high winds. Homes built with ICF exterior walls require an estimated 44 percent less energy to heat and 32 percent less energy to cool when compared with traditional wood-frame construction.

Joah Bussert, project manager for the Monarch Eco-home, in a prepared statement, said, “This is a unique opportunity to educate both the residents of Joplin as well as the students — the future designers of new buildings — about the benefits and practice of constructing sustainable buildings.’’

About GreenTown Joplin

GreenTown Joplin is a project of Greensburg GreenTown, the nonprofit organization that helped Greensburg, Kan., rebuild an energy-efficient community after a tornado in May 2007 destroyed most of the town. GreenTown has been working in Joplin since August 2011. Details: