At Home at the Minnesota State Fair

The Great Minnesota Get-Together starts on Thursday! And with the Minnesota State Fair comes the Eco House demonstration home!

Designed by SALA Architects, this year's approximately 2,200-square-foot dwelling produces as much electricity as it uses. The house's design includes three dozen solar panels and a geothermal heat pump. Hooked up to the existing electrical grid, it's configured to draw from certified green energy sources at night and on cloudy days, while feeding energy back into the grid on sunny days. It's also carbon-neutral, using no fossil fuels.

Other green features include electrical appliances, super-insulated 12-inch-thick walls, and eco-friendly finishing materials, such as wheatboard interior walls, recycled glass tiles and a kitchen countertop made of crushed walnut shells in resin. The house will include a carport (designed to house a plug-in electrical car) with a green roof and a demonstration rain garden.

What's more, if you want one to call your very own, this year's Eco House is not just a showcase but an actual prototype, with plans available for purchase.

The Eco House is long and narrow, designed to sit on a standard city lot. Having an Eco House of your own would likely cost a little more up front, but the reduced operating costs would make the investment worth it over the long run. You can see an aristic rendering of what the house looks like in this Star Tribune article. Or, if you visit the fair, you can take a free tour of the house as part of the Eco Experience in the Progress Building.

The Minnesota State Fair runs August 27 through September 7.

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