Construction Begins on UT New Norris House

New Norris House rendering

KNOXVILLE — After two years of research, site visits and design work, construction of the New Norris House is under way.

The New Norris House, a sustainable home designed by an interdisciplinary team at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is a 21st century take on the original homes in the community of Norris, Tenn., built as part of the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Norris Dam Project in 1933.

Prefabrication of the house begins this week at the Clayton Homes factory, with the shell of the structure to be delivered to the site the week of Oct. 4. Community members Jeff and Regina Merritt, who are active in renovating other historic Norris homes, helped facilitate the university’s acquisition of the home site.

The team is targeting a late April to early May opening of the home for demonstration and visitation by the public. Once completed, the New Norris House will seek LEED-platinum certification from the United States Green Building Council, making it the fifth LEED platinum home in Tennessee. The LEED for homes program promotes the design and construction of high-performance green homes and certifies that green design parameters are met.

The original town of Norris was designed as a model community and was revolutionary for its time. The centerpiece of the community was the Norris House, a series of innovative, affordable homes that featured new technologies and design elements such as pre-cast flooring and advancements in ventilation, insulation, electric and thermal heating, indoor plumbing, and lighting. In that same spirit, the New Norris House was designed as an affordable, efficient, and sustainable structure that incorporates today’s technologies and meets today’s needs.

“The New Norris House reflects the original model of Norris homes in it use of local, natural materials, ability to dwell lightly and responsively to the landscape and overall in its embodied progressive vision,” said Samuel Mortimer, a former architecture student and current research specialist working on the project.

The New Norris House will incorporate green materials to address indoor air quality. The interior will be well-insulated, bright and open. The design also will take advantage of natural ventilation, winter sunlight and summer shade. The house will feature a solar-heated, hot-water, a high-efficiency heat pump, ductless heating and cooling, ventilation that recovers heated or cooled air before exhausting, a system for collecting and storing rainwater, and an on-site system for treating gray water.

After a one-year demonstration and evaluation period where the house will be open for tours for homebuilders, buyers and the public, the house will become a living laboratory for two UT research students. They will live in the house and will measure some of the energy systems as well as the house’s contributions to the community, which the team also considers to be part of sustainable design.

“We readily understand sustainability concerns in the building design but sustainability must also be approached through lifestyle and community decisions,” said Assistant Professor Tricia Stuth, who is lead investigator on the project.

“The new design integrates the home into the surrounding community via pedestrian paths linking homes to community service nodes that provide for shopping, recreation, public gatherings, and performances. Each node has a unique function serving the town as a whole.”

The bulk of funding for the earlier phases of the project was provided by an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grant that the team competed for and won at the EPA P3 Award Competition in April 2009. Other funding was provided by UT Alliance of Women Philanthropists, Clayton Homes Foundation and General Shale.

The project, headed by the College of Architecture and Design, included participants from the UT Institute for a Secure and Sustainable Environment and the College of Engineering and department of Environmental Studies.

For more information, visit http://www.thenewnorrishouse.com.

C O N T A C T :

Kristi Hintz (865-974-3993, khintz@utk.edu)

Tricia Stuth (865-974-5267, tstuth@utk.edu)

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