Water Pipes Freeze, Burst in Celebrated Solar House

Published August 1, 2009

Attendees at a Green Summit held by Michigan’s Oakland County Planning and Development Services department were unable to tour the county’s “green” showpiece, an 800-square-foot solar-powered house built at a cost of $900,000, because water pipes burst and flooded the home when the solar power units couldn’t keep the internal water from freezing.

The flooding was reported May 15, although it was unclear when the bursting actually took place.

“We are pleased that the ALOeTERRA house has found a home in Troy where people can see that a well-designed, sustainable house can be a reasonable choice,” Joseph Veryser, associate dean of the College of Architecture and Design at Michigan’s Lawrence Technological University, told the press in April 2008.

“A small house in the City of Troy is going to mark the beginning of a new kind. A pragmatic solution to use solar energy in homes, the house is going to be rebuilt at the community centre as a centre for recreation activities in order to make people understand the available environmentally friendly building techniques and technologies along with energy conservation,” the Ecofriend environmental group promised last year on its Web site.

Instead, construction crews will have to pump out the water and repair extensive damage before going back to the drawing board.

James M. Taylor ([email protected]) is a senior fellow of The Heartland Institute and managing editor of Environment & Climate News.