The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

May 2011 Joplin tornado

August 31, 2012

Residents use green building techniques to conserve utilities

Hugh Shields wanted to build a house of the future that is comfortable and that his grandchildren could appreciate.

Bob Sheldon looked for something strong and efficient.

Frank Schaffer set his sights on building new houses people could afford even when the utility bills arrive.

Though they all have settled on different construction methods for rebuilding homes they lost in the Joplin tornado, they share one goal: energy efficiency.

Shields and his wife, Ramona, are using structural insulated panels — SIPs — wall construction. The walls come in 6-inch-thick panels that consist of insulating foam sandwiched between oriented strand board.

Every component, from the extra-tall roof trusses that made room for a thicker blanket of insulation to the concrete floors, was selected for the contribution it could make to heating or cooling the house efficiently.

Shields said he had lived in older houses before that were hard to heat and cool uniformly. He wanted his new house to be comfortable throughout.

“I also wanted to be seen by children as looking ahead,” he said. All of the materials used are sustainable so that the house can be repaired or updated in the future using the same materials, not wasting natural resources. “This is my way of paying it forward,” Shields said.

 Shields, an engineer by profession, has long been interested in energy conservation and sustainability methods.

Faced with rebuilding from the Joplin tornado, he sought out building techniques through the GreenTown Joplin organization.

GreenTown distributes information about energy-efficient and sustainable construction from an office on the second floor of Suzanne’s Natural Foods, 3106 Connecticut Ave. The group also makes information available on a Facebook page and at www.greentownjoplin.org.

Catherine Hart, general manager of GreenTown, said the organization has been holding seminars for residents to see the options for energy-efficient construction. Those methods in the past have been regarded as materials hard to obtain and expensive. But no more, she said.

“It makes it easier for them to move forward once they realize it doesn’t have to be difficult” with green building, if they are made aware of the options, she said. “They can see it makes a lot of sense.”

Across town, a recent open house at the home of Bob and Julie Sheldon, 2017 S. Florida Ave., drew a couple of hundred people interested in seeing the two-story Victorian-inspired house being constructed of ARXX insulated concrete foam block.

Sheldon said the main reason the couple chose ICF is for the strength of the concrete-filled foam block in standing up to windstorms. “After seeing what the tornado did to traditional houses, I looked for something else. I felt this was a safer way to go to, plus a way to protect valuable items or things you might want to save,” he said. A safe room is built into the house with the ICF block.

The energy savings that ICF provides because of its 6-inch thick construction “was the ultimate factor in the decision to do this,” Sheldon said.

He said the walls offer an insulating value of R-50 and a thermal wicking effect to pull heat into the house in cold months. The 3,000-square-foot home will use a heating and cooling system for a house half that size, he said. He expects his utility bills to be 30 to 40 percent lower than he would otherwise pay.

He will use a natural-gas heating system along with a fireplace, but believes that the house is so insulated that in the event of a heating system failure “it is going to take several days before it’s going to get cool enough to be uncomfortable.”

The Sheldons have high expectations of energy savings because they first built a detached garage from the ICF material. It stayed comfortable without being heated, Sheldon said, and in addition the heavy insulation qualities kept the building quiet, even shutting out the operation of heavy equipment in the lot behind his, he said.

A third type of energy-saving construction will be undertaken by Frank Schaffer, the owner of F.E. Schaffer Construction. He will start rebuilding his house this fall at 2215 W. 27th St. He will build it as a model home to demonstrate Energy Star 3.0 standards.

“Most people’s concept of the Energy Star program is looking at appliances and windows,” Schaffer said, but it also involves construction methods.

“The concept has been around 20 years,” he said. “We’re taking modern building materials and using special framing techniques and high-efficiency equipment.”

The construction method calls for insulated housing to be built around air ducts so that cold and warm air is not lost in the attic. It’s a concept called conditioned airspace.

Schaffer can build the houses in any price range, but he has set a goal of building about 50 in the $115,000 price range in the next five years for people with limited incomes.

He said a house payment is something that people can budget because it is a known amount each month. What makes homeownership a financial challenge for some is meeting unexpected costs.

“Energy is the unexpected cost,” he said. “When it gets hot and you get that utility bill for $200 to $300, that’s an unexpected cost. We should never be over $100 month” on electric bills with the construction techniques and products he advocates, Schaffer said.

Text Only
May 2011 Joplin tornado
  • Local new-home construction catches up to previous pace

    After a slow start early in this fiscal year for Joplin, the construction of new houses has resumed at the pace that existed in fiscal year 2013, when permits for new houses averaged more than 16 per month. Since November, the beginning of Joplin’s fiscal year, permits for 118 houses have been issued for a total cost of $12.8 million. The average value has been about $108,000.

    June 11, 2014

  • 052212 unity walk1_72.jpg SLIDESHOW: One year later, One day of unity, updated Photos from a day of events commemorating the May 22, 2011 tornado anniversary

    May 22, 2012 1 Photo

  • 060314 Farmers rebuild 1_72.jpg Farmers Insurance writes manual based on experience from Joplin disaster recovery

    Joplin’s housing recovery from the 2011 tornado is one for the books. Jeff Dailey, CEO of Farmers Insurance, announced Tuesday that not only will Farmers Insurance stick with Rebuild Joplin to repair and replace the homes left on the local group’s waiting list, but the company also will kick off a similar recovery effort today for the city of Sea Bright, New Jersey, based on a book it has written to expedite disaster recovery that is based on its experience in Joplin.

    June 3, 2014 2 Photos

  • r052214butterflygarden.jpg New park feature opens on tornado anniversary to encourage healing

    Cunningham Park has become an emotional place for Pamela Praytor. The name of her son, Christopher Lucas, is engraved on a monument that stands in the park in memory of the 161 people who were killed in the May 2011 tornado. “Even though I cry when I come, it’s OK,” she said. “It’s part of the healing.”

    May 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • r051214greenbldgs3.jpg Home, business cited as examples of energy efficiency, strength

    Ramona and Charles “Hugh’’ Shields were not the least bit reluctant on Monday to open their new house in the tornado zone to a bunch of strangers who had a lot of questions. “I used to live in a house where I had to wear two pairs of socks in the winter to keep my feet warm — not anymore,’’ said Ramona Shields. “This house is nice and warm in the winter, and nice and cool in the summer.’’

    May 12, 2014 2 Photos

  • Mercy Health System to receive $23 million FEMA grant

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency will provide Mercy Health System of Joplin with $23 million in public assistance funding by the end of the year. The disaster relief was announced Friday by U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill.

    April 25, 2014

  • Respond With Love flower.jpg Joplin pays it forward with flowers; residents asked to return bulbs ‘fostered’ for other towns

    Suzan Morang’s front yard bloomed brightly last year from a colorful array of bulbs that she will happily pass on to someone else this year. Morang, 1207 Xenia Court, is a participant in America Responds With Love, a national nonprofit organization that distributes bulbs to disaster-stricken cities.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Creator of Joplin-based ‘Dear World’ exhibit features Boston bombing victims in new work

    The messages written on the skin of some Boston Marathon victims may be different, but Joplin residents will recognize the handwriting. Robert X. Fogarty, the creator of the “Dear World: From Joplin with Love” exhibit, took his signature style of photography and inspiration to Boston. Fogarty traveled to Joplin in 2011 and took pictures of community members with inspirational messages written on their bodies in black ink.

    April 21, 2014

  • r041414wildwood.jpg Opening of nursing home another recovery milestone

    Gladys Dutton has done a lot of things in her life, but Monday’s dedication of the Communities at Wildwood Ranch nursing home marked a first. “I’ve never cut a ribbon before,” she said. “I hope I do a good job.” Dutton was one of four residents to participate in the opening of the $8.5 million nursing center that eventually will be home to 120 people.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Joplin Redevelopment Corp. preparing for first property sale

    The first sale of property from the Joplin Redevelopment Corp. to Wallace Bajjali Development Partners is scheduled for May 16. The city staff will be working to prepare for that sale, it was discussed on Tuesday at a meeting of the JRC.

    April 9, 2014

Purchase Globe Photos


Featured Ads
Facebook
Tornado: Multimedia coverage
Tornado: Obituaries
Tornado: Columns
Tornado: Mike Pound
Tornado: Lists of missing, fatalities & relief
Tornado: Donate & volunteer
Tornado: Resources & relief