By DAVID HOY/Montana State News

Light bulbs are being screwed in and cabinet handles attached as the Montana EcoSmart house project nears completion. In September 2010, a groundbreaking ceremony for the project occurred, supported by Montana State University and REHAU Incorporated.

On April 20, 2012 ,the project home will host an opening ceremony to celebrate the unique collaborations involved. Ongoing functions at the home will be used to garner support for future endeavors.

On Thursday, March 29, students from various areas of the MSU campus will be involved with a fundraiser even being held at the project home. Support for future university CRLab and Architecture Department projects will be gathered.

Around 65 potential boosters will interact with the students who worked on the house from preproduction, construction and future monitoring.

MSU President Waded-Cruzado will also be in attendance to view the net-zero energy Montana EcoSmart home and hear the stories of the students that were involved with the process of such a unique project.

With help from the Architecture, Engineering, Film and Photography Departments, the REHAU Montana EcoSmart house project has involved students from the onset. Students from the CRLab helped with the initial design of the house and systems involved. Engineering students laid out thousands of feet of cable and sensors this past summer. Also, a documentary of the process has been ongoing since the groundbreaking ceremony years ago.

This project home contains over 350 sensors that will be monitored for the next three years after the construction is completed.

Although the house is celebrating its completion, the intended family to occupy the house has quite a unique situation before future home ownership. After the ceremonies are complete, an observational period of the “green” systems will begin.

For two years the house will remain empty of inhabitants to gather a base set of data with no interference of human interaction. Sponsor company REHAU Incorporated will rent out the home for the time of the observations until the future homeowners will be able to move in.

A third year of research will be conducted to compare the first two years’ base system data against the year of human occupants after the home is moved into. Even after the several years of post completion research are conducted, the project home is going to be a model well into the future.

By incorporating over a dozen eco-friendly home systems in the home, there simply is nothing like the REHAU Montana EcoSmart House Project in Northwest America. One of the main goals of the collaboration is to find out what is possible in terms of sustainable living in the Montana climate.

The home itself will attract an array of potential buyers of such eco-friendly systems, because they can see the devices being utilized. Whether they want a completely off-the-grid house or just solar panels, that’s up to future homeowners.

Edited by Haley Anderson.

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