Smith Residence: the first Active House in the United States

A modern home that offers a healthy indoor climate and exceptional energy efficiency – while harmonising with its traditional neighbourhood. That is the first Active House in the United States. Home to the Smith family of St. Louis, Missouri, who find their house extremely comfortable.


A traditional home built to the most modern standards 

For the Smith family, moving into the USA’s first Active House in 2013 was a new beginning and a return to the past. David Smith grew up near the Active House site and has fond memories of playing wiffle ball in the yard just across the street. When the Smiths’ architect, Jeff Day (of Jeff Day and Associates in St. Louis) proposed the Active House idea, the family jumped on board. 

"We wanted to have comfort in our home, we wanted to have a very nice house with lots of amenities," says owner David Smith. He wanted to build a good home for his family of two parents and a daughter. "When we learned more about the Active House standard and what it allowed us to do, we were very excited about it," Smith remembers.

The home design strategy was guided by the culture and well-established architectural standards of the Old Webster district, a St. Louis suburb where historic buildings, beautiful surroundings and a tightly knit community provide an attractive environment for families.  

The project team transformed a traditional home into an Active House, creating a structure that would fit its surroundings – yet significantly outperform neighbouring buildings throughout its lifecycle with its minimal operation-, energy- and maintenance costs. The community has embraced the new construction:

The really important thing with any project is certainly to build a home that fits the community and fits the neighbourhood. All in all, the community loves it and we have certainly got a lot of attention. Often nowadays, when people ask me where I live, I just refer to it as the Active House. They know where it is,"

says home owner David Smith.

An experienced accountant, Smith describes himself as "a numbers individual." "In any project, you need to make sure that you’re going to get value from your product. I feel we certainly have in this case," he says.

The family enjoys the reduced energy costs, but David Smith also feels that the Active House gives value for money in terms of quality of life:

"One of the nicest aspects of this house is the incredible amount of daylight. Rarely do we turn on the lights in the house during the day," he says and describes the family home as "extremely comfortable".

Photos: Torben Eskerod

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