Register staff report
BEREA — The Hoover family is a “perfect match” for the newest Habitat for Humanity house in Berea, said Judy Flavell, executive director of Habitat for Madison and Clark Counties.
J.T. and Marlena Hoover, with their daughters Madison, 10, and Jaidyn, 4, are set to move into the first “passive house” built in Kentucky for a Habitat family.
“My husband and I love science and also love that we will be able to save energy and money at the same time,” Marlena said.
The house on Brown Street is the most energy-efficient house built yet by Habitat for Humanity of Madison and Clark Counties, Flavell said. Designed by Kentucky Habitat Sustainability Specialist Ginger Watkins, the house is expected to meet certification standards of the Passive House Institute (www.passivehouse.us) and result in significant savings in energy costs for the family.
Terry Manges, Madison/Clark Habitat’s construction chief, worked closely with Watkins on design adjustments and supervised the innovative construction project.
“Affordability for the homeowner is the most important reason we decided to learn how to build this highly energy-efficient house. For families without a lot of discretionary income, energy costs are a major factor,” Flavell said. “In the process, we’re learning a great deal about how to improve the efficiency of all Habitat houses in Madison and Clark Counties.”
Although the local Habitat affiliate has been building houses that meet Energy Star standards for several years, “We’re seeing that there is a lot we can do well beyond Energy Star,” Flavell said.
The Madison/Clark affiliate was invited to take on the project by Kentucky Habitat for Humanity when the state organization was looking for a new level of “green housing” training for all Habitat organizations in Kentucky. A modest amount of grant funding came with the project, to help offset the additional cost.
A Passive House design uses an airtight shell, super-insulation, superior windows and a heat exchanger for ventilation to achieve 70 percent or greater reductions in energy use relative to conventional housing and lower emissions of greenhouse gases.
Marlena Hoover, a medical lab technician, and J.T., a relocation specialist for Eastern Kentucky University, said they are “thankful, excited and very happy to be able to own an affordable home” that they can be “proud of.”
Their daughter Madison, a fourth-grader, and Jaidyn, a preschooler, both love math, science, arts and crafts, and Justin Beiber.
J.T. also loves science as well as antique collections while Marlena, who recently received a bachelor’s degree in biology, loves family movie nights and enjoys reading “The Great Gatsby.”
Dominick Hart, retired from Eastern Kentucky University, signed on to volunteer as a family mentor for the Hoovers.
“The Hoovers are, for me, represent the many good folks who enrich our community — hard working, committed, focused on a goal, determined to provide decent housing for their family and ready to assist their neighbors to do the same. The genius, and heart, of Habitat for Humanity is best seen through families, such as the Hoovers, who ‘earn’ their homes through the Habitat program. Habitat gives such families that initial step up that so many of us need.”
Habitat for Humanity of Madison and Clark Counties, founded in 1992, works in partnership with volunteers, donors and families in need to build safe, decent, affordable housing.
The affiliate looks forward to building its 100th house in the next year, Flavell said.