A Fine Nest: Sustainable Housing in Iowa

A green building pioneer’s straw-clay home proves life-changing for its creator and life-giving to its residents.

The 1,500-square-foot home faces east, following the mandates of ancient Indian sthapatya ved building. John and Caree Connet later encircled it with a bamboo “Vastu fence,” another sthapatya ved requirement. Strong cross-ventilation and large roof overhangs negate the need for air conditioning, while the glass window wall on the south side provides 50 to 60 percent of the home’s heat through passive solar in winter. The long, low cupola on the roof, called a Boston Ridge, provides a cushion of air that intercepts heat in summer and keeps the surface cool in winter, allowing snow to insulate and seal the roof.
Photography By Povy Kendal Atchison