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Energy efficiency in industry

Indoor air quality

Active House USA – Smith residence

22. May 2023

Solution provider


For more than 80 years, the VELUX Group has created better indoor environments by bringing daylight and fresh air into homes and other buildings all over the world. The VELUX Group was founded in Denmark and is today an international company with a presence in 37 countries.

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Traditionally, green building standards are concerned primarily with the construction materials and building process. Active House standards are the first residential building standards to focus on what happens once the homeowners are living in the home. The immediate goal is to provide the homeowner with a cost-effective, easy to operate, and low maintenance living space. A focus on those goals creates a healthier and more comfortable environmental for the occupants without impacting the climate.

When the Smith family moved into the First Active House in the USA, it was the beginning of something new as well as a return to the past. David Smith grew up near the Active House site in Webster Groves, MO and even has fond memories of playing wiffle ball, a variant of baseball for confined areas, in the yard just across the street from where the house is being built. When David and his wife Thuy decided they wanted to build a new home, they called on Jeff Day of Jeff Day and Associates, a St. Louis architecture firm they had worked with in the past, to help them begin their journey.


Active House USA is a custom green home built in 2013 located in Webster Groves, MO. The design and construction of this home relied on leading green, sustainable, and environmentally conscious building practices from around the world. The home’s design and operation take an holistic approach to sustainability and community conscious home construction.

During the first year of residence in the home, the Smith family allowed the University of Missouri’s Center for Sustainable Energy to monitor energy consumption and indoor air quality as part of their research efforts and to help improve green living standards around the country. The family is also provided anecdotal evidence and data to support and complete the metrics.

Active House USA in Webster Groves, MO is situated in the center of the United States in a bustling suburb located 15 minutes away from downtown St. Louis, MO.

By focusing on three main sustainability factors – energy, environment, and indoor climate – during planning, construction, and after the homeowner takes residence, Active House USA aims to have a positive impact on both the homeowners and the immediate community.

Active House prototypes were first built in Europe, and were developed with the goal of giving back more than they take. Homes built using the Active House standards are energy efficient and are conscious of using only renewable resources. The indoor climate is built to be comfortable and healthy, and the home itself is built in a way that has little to no impact on the local and global environment


Active House is a holistic specification, meaning it takes into account everything involved with a house − the resources used to construct a building, its impact in terms of energy and water consumption, occupant comfort and even such external parameters as storm water run-off. Several prototype homes have been built around Europe, and one in Russia, using the Active House principles, which were proclaimed in Brussels in April 2010. These geographical areas have provided a wealth of experience and knowledge of durable construction in harsh climatic conditions and planning for dense concentrations of population. This experience also includes dealing with scarcity of materials and managing the impact of those population densities on existing and future resources. These issues, combined with an ever-increasing demand for energy, created an opportunity to merge that knowledge and experience to address these issues, while promoting better comfort and health for building occupants.

In the United States, the resource efficiency in today’s American green standards (like Green Globes) stems from post-war construction and the limited amount of natural resources such as timber, due to deforestation. The continued growth in demand for energy efficient developments, buildings, new homes and retrofitting of the 128 million existing homes that account for the bulk of the nation’s residential energy consumption, means that innovative concepts capable of addressing this energy efficiency are crucial. Sound business planning, including risk management, is also essential to be able to operate and compete in the rapidly evolving construction market.

Other homes have been built around the world under the Active House umbrella utilizing Active House specifications. Active Houses can be found in countries such as Portugal, Austria, Norway, UK, Italy, Netherlands, and Russia.