Rehau Ecosmart House

Near Net-Zero Research Project

The REHAU Montana ecosmart house is a project sponsored by REHAU, an international manufacturer of polymers and systems, and overseen by Montana State University Creative Research Lab.

This project focuses on exhibiting the potential for maximized energy efficiency and comfort by incorporating a variety of energy-efficient, sustainable building products and systems. Its goal is to build a home that can achieve near net-zero status by combining on-site power generation with efficiency measures to meet most of its own energy requirements.

The basic tenet of net-zero is that the building must produce more energy than it consumes annually. It's a particular challenge in cold climates because of winter heating requirements.

The ecosmart house incorporates advanced techniques and efficient materials, including high-performance windows, solar panels, a geothermal heat pump, radiant heating and cooling, a ground-air heat exchanger, and REHAU Smart Controls. 

The 3,800-square-foot home in Bozeman, Montana, was completed in early 2012. The first story was built with insulated concrete forms, and the second story with R-Control SIPs, including 8-1/4" wall and 12-1/4" roof panels.

The home achieved a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) index score of 32, which means it is about 70% more efficient than the typical new home of its size. It was also awarded EnergyStar® and LEED® certifications.

MSU students were involved from the design phase through build and installation. They assembled the SIPs, following the directions of a Big Sky representative onsite.

MSU used the home as a real-life laboratory for the study of energy-saving materials and techniques.  Students placed over 300 sensors throughout the home, and monitored the performance of the systems for 18 months, beginning in April 2013.