Ken and Andree are two of our very favorite people–and if you want to know about Getting to Work, they're the people to ask. Here's the story of their old/new house in all its green glory–a true inspiration!

One year after major construction began on the Jamaica Plain Green House, we’re in! It’s a milestone for our blended family — Andrée Collier and her boys, Kuba and Simon, and Ken and Eli Ward. There are still many hurdles ahead: we're still waiting for hot water, and completed kitchen and bathrooms.  But we have been warm and dry amidst torrential rains that have flooded many neighbors. The boys are happy in the kid-sized loft that sits above the community room, accessible only by trap door.

In 2008 we bought a 100-year-old house and corner store in derelict condition from a bank, and then rehabbed it to meet exacting "Passivhaus" standards. We project that the JP Green House will use less then 1/10th the energy it needed before rehab, and about 1/3 the total energy of a comparable EnergyStar home. In ordinary language that means this: The house essentially needs no heat other than that provided by warm bodies and lightbulbs, because it is so well insulated, and makes use of passive solar heat collected by a concrete floor and large south-facing windows. Eventually adding solar panels will take us to zero (net) carbon, or less.

The JP Green House is a living demonstration home, meaning we live there, attempting to model sustainable urban living in our messy, human, bumbling way, and at the same time we open up frequently to the community for tours and education on sustainability and climate change.  Our community room is a former neighborhood store, which will provide meeting space for "  Hub” campaigning work as well as our other events.  Our ambitions for the quarter-acre urban lot also include urban farming, and this week we’re building hillside terraces for raspberries, and seeding herbs.

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