Don Shelby can hop off that eco-soapbox and pad around his $1.1 million triple-certified green Excelsior residence, a featured domicile on the Parade of Homes spring tour.
"Barbara and I have been saving for 10 years to build this house," the retired WCCO-TV anchor told me Monday, "basically selling everything else we own -- the house and the cabin -- because this is how we wanted to live." While you might expect a house this green to be post-modern, Shelby is tickled that it looks like a farmhouse cottage because that's the style he and his wife like.
"With Excelsior one of the oldest communities in the state, we wanted the house to fit in the neighborhood. This looks like a 1910 farmhouse but it has the energy efficiency of 2012. It's only a two-bedroom, 2,500-square-feet house; it's not a McMansion," he said.
It was built with as many recycled, reused, repurposed materials as possible. The floors, walls and ceilings are made of wood from an 800-square-foot fallen-down cottage that was on the property and from wood salvaged from another dismantled house. The roof is made of old tractor tires and sawdust, although it "looks like wood shingles," said Shelby.
"It's triply certified: USGBC Green Building Council LEED Platinum, Minnesota GreenStar and Builders Association Twin Cities," said Shelby, who noted the residence has a HERS score of 18. "HERS, Household Energy Rating System, benchlines a house built to 2012 code at 100 for energy efficiency. ... My house has a HERS score of 18, so it is 82 percent more efficient than a standard house.
"It's geo-thermal, with electricity coming mainly from solar panels on the garage roof. I'm going to have very few bills; in fact, I become a utility with my solar because when I'm not there and not using electricity, it's producing electricity and sending it back into the grid, and then they have to pay you the same prices they charge for a kilowatt hour."
Jon Monson was the architect, Landschute Group the designer. The Shelbys' daughter Lacy designed the water-retention system. "Of all the depletable and depleting resources in the world, water is one of the greatest concerns, even greater than petroleum," said Shelby.
"Lacy, who is the Frederick Law Olmsted Scholar out of Cornell University's landscape architecture department and now the director of green infrastructure through the city of New York's department of transportation, came and designed the system where I'm capturing 95 percent of my roof water in the cisterns I will later use for irrigation. I've also got two 3,000-gallon rain gardens. I'm trying to get to a point where there is no runoff from my property."
Middle daughter Lacy also designed the low-mow and no-mow grass system.
But Shelby's favorite area may be his studio over the garage. It contains "my books, my recording booth for broadcast for narrating books, all my computer gear, television set, couch, desk and a lot of storage area," he said.
While Shelby may be on hand during some of the parade tours, the home is being staged with items that don't belong to the Shelbys.
"This is not just some fancy home. This is a statement of an ethic," he said. "Truthfully, I've been standing on my soapbox 15 years talking about these things. I thought it was about time to walk the talk. People shouldn't be frightened by that price because I'm not trying to tell people to go out and build the house that we live in. I know that can't be done by 90 percent of the people, but there are little things inside [that can be done] -- triple-pane argon windows, big heavy insulation systems -- that everybody can employ and bring down their energy cost.
"On one side it's a very conservative position to take politically -- conservatives hate waste of any kind. That's part of my growing up in a conservative Republican household," he said. But it also conforms "to my sorta social liberal side, which is one who believes in the science that humans are doing damage to the planet and I don't want to be part of that, not just doing damage to the planet but the people who live on it."
In front of the home is a sculpture called an inukshuk, the traditional symbol of the Inupiat or Inuit. "People will say 'Why did you put that statue up?' and I point to the house. 'Why did you build that house?' and I point to the statue because with global warming that culture is going to be the first to disappear."
The Parade of Homes runs from March 3 through April 1.Jarvis, Hanson marry
A NY Times story about CBS' Rebecca Jarvis and her new husband, Matthew Pierce Hanson, contained not a hint of nonsense about the couple taking the marriage name Jarvanson.
They were married at McNamara Alumni Center in Minneapolis in a ceremony that included the Rev. Craig H. Hanson, pastor at Roseville Lutheran and father of the groom.
Jarvis must not be as private about her personal life as I thought when her mom, Chicago Tribune nationally syndicated financial columnist Gail Marks Jarvis, declined to tell me anything about her future son-in-law, a partner in the NY offices of California-based GSV Asset Management, according to the NYT.
C.J. is at 612.332.TIPS or firstname.lastname@example.org. E-mailers, please state a subject -- "Hello" doesn't count. Attachments are not opened, so don't even try. More of her attitude can be seen Thursday mornings on FOX 9.