Interesting real estate story out of Northeast Ohio today:


The PNC SmartHome, a three-bedroom Colonial built as an interactive green demo home on the grounds of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and moved to a vacant lot in the city’s University Circle nabe this past October, has finally been retired from the market after selling to a couple hailing from … Maryland. 


Billed as Cleveland's only residence “deliberately built without a furnace,” the PNC SmartHome received over 10,000 curious visitors during its tenure at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. Built in conjunction with a traveling exhibition on climate change, the home opened to the public in June 2011 and remained on the museum grounds until being relocated less than a mile away to its final resting place on Wade Park Ave. in October. Initially listed at $329,000, the home, which cost about twice that amount to build, languished on the market for several months with interest picking up this spring. Apparently, no local residents who toured the erstwhile demo home fell so madly in love with it that they just had to have it post-exhibition. Would the PNC SmartHome, built to stringent passive house standards (certification from the Passive House Institute US is pending), continue to sit empty? Would it make the leap from a furnace-less, 2,800-square-foot novelty to a viable piece of real estate?


Enter Martin and Jocelyn Schaffer, a couple from Maryland who had never even heard of the PNC SmartHome let alone toured it when it was installed at the museum. On a recent trip to Cleveland to visit their son and his family, the Schaffers just happened to drive by the home, saw the “for sale” sign, and were intrigued. Several hours later, they were filling out contracts. The thermos-esque abode that's 90 percent more efficient than typical homes was theirs for $331,000.


Although it may seem like a case of extreme impulse buying with a green twist, the Schaffers are no eco-living dilettantes. According to the Plain Dealer, the couple have built or planned to build sustainable homes in the past, both in Maryland and in Asheville, N.C. (the latter project was shelved when the housing market crashed). And although it’s by far the priciest home in a neighborhood where most properties are valued for under $100,000, the SmartHome is a steal compared to prices that the Schaffers were used to back in the D.C. area, especially when considering what it cost to build and relocate the home and the virtually next-to-nothing costs (around $20 a month) associated with heating and cooling it.


David Beach, director of the GreenCityBlueLake Institute at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, tells the Plain Dealer: "Part of the proof of concept here was that we could build the most energy-efficient house in Northeast Ohio and sell it in the real estate market. So this was not an academic exercise. We were building a real house that people would want to live in."


In addition to the heat-recovery ventilation system, super-thick insulation, airtight SIP construction, and high-performance, German-made windows and doors that helped the Doty & Miller Architects-designed home achieve passive house-dom, it boasts an impressive laundry list of additional green features: EnergyStar appliances, LED lighting, dual flush toilets and water-saving fixtures, recycled glass countertops, reclaimed hardwood flooring, sustainable landscaping, and, of course, the use of zero-VOC paints, finishes, and other materials to ensure optimum indoor air quality. After the move, the home was placed on a site with an insulated concrete form foundation. There’s also a detached garage with a photovoltaic-ready roof.  


Any Clevelanders have the chance to check out the home during its showing at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History? What did you think?


More, including images of the home in its current location, over at


Via [] via [Jetson Green]

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Museum-quality passive house sells in Cleveland
The PNC SmartHome, a tricked-out, furnace-free abode built as a temporary educational exhibit at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, is purchased by a pair