There’s a new eco-village under construction in River Falls, Wisconsin. When complete, it will include 18 homes and a community center. It’s built by the St. Croix Valley Habitat for Humanity, whose goal is to provide affordable housing.

Cooper: “We started out with the notion of building a home that the homeowners could afford to stay in as well as to buy. And a big part of this now, and even more so in the future is the cost of energy to heat and cool a home and operate it.”

That’s project manager Jim Cooper.

Cooper: “We started out looking at renewables to provide as much energy as possible for the home and to make the homes as efficient as possible – reducing the energy consumption by the homes by super-insulating them, by using very high efficiency fixtures, LED lighting, Energy Star appliances, and attempting to minimize the energy footprint of the home.”

Electricity is supplied, at least in part, by solar panels attached to each home. Ultimately, the goal is for the eco-village to generate as much energy as it uses. According to Sara Zugschwert, a first-time homeowner and eco-village resident, they are already close:

Zugschwert: “I paid my utility bill for the month of December and it was $11.”

Proving that affordable housing and sustainability can go hand in hand.


Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.
Photo source: St. Croix Valley Habitat for Humanity

More Resources
Energy Efficiency Fact Sheet (Habitat for Humanity)
Habitat for Humanity of Minnesota, Zero Energy Home
Green homes for the masses — with no energy bills for 10 years

Lisa Palmer is a freelance journalist and a fellow at the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, SESYNC, in Annapolis, Md. Her writing covers the environment, energy, food security, agriculture,...