3716 Springfield House by Studio 804, LEED Platinum and Off the Grid


This is the first of a new series of articles from Robert McLaughlin, founder of House Virescent and co-founder of KCmodern, who will report on green building efforts in Greensburg, Kansas and Kansas City.

Studio 804, the graduate level design-build studio from the University of Kansas School of Architecture and Urban Planning, followed up its successful Modular 1,2,3,4 houses and the 547 Art Center in Greensburg, Kansas with the 3716 Springfield House.  It's another great looking house seeking not only to be LEED Platinum, but to be off the grid as well.  Also known as the Buffalo House, the Kansas City, Kansas project attempts "a holistic approach to sustainability" and uses active solar and wind technologies to power itself.

3716-springfield-front 3716-springfield-right

This project breaks a four-year tradition for Studio 804 of building modular buildings in a warehouse near the University of Kansas and then shipping the units to the site.  This new site-built project is a two-level home with a basement and an integrally attached one car garage.  It uses sustainable features such as a vertical axis wind turbine, roof-mounted photovoltaic solar panels, geothermal heat pump, framing wood recycled from an ammunition plant, and a underground rainwater reclamation system.

Visually one of the most noticeable features is the building's cumaru wood rain-screen cladding.  This cladding has become a signature element on Studio 804 projects, and it allows water to pass behind the wood skin of the building.  A similar rain-screen detail is used over the metal roof of the building to give the roof and wall skin a uniform appearance.  The rain-screen is then flush with the photovoltaic solar panels on the roof.  Integral gutters and downspouts are hidden behind the rain-screen and carry rainwater to underground tanks.


The home also features passive solar heating through large expanses of south facing glass.  These windows are protected from the summer sun with fixed sun louvers made of steel and cumaru wood.  Low south facing operable windows and north facing roof-top skylight vents create a thermal chimney effect.

Sun-louvers 3716-springfield-sun-louvers

Epoxy coated gyp-crete floors provide interior thermal mass for the passive heating and cooling, while composite recycled paper countertops wrap the kitchen cabinets.


A three-level steel frame with glass "shingles" encloses the staircase and provides daylighting and spatial separation between the front rooms and the baths of the house.  Nighttime lighting is handled with a low-voltage cable system.


At some sensitive fenestration, the rain-screen carries over the glass for solar protection.  This large west facing window has a steel armature to hold the rain-screen.


The vertical axis wind turbine, a Windspire by Mariah Power, will help supply power to the building when it becomes operational.


Photo credits: Robert McLaughlin.

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  • Brian N.

    I really like this house. Especially the integration of the solar panels and the garage. I would love to see more photos of the inside…

  • http://mportlandrealestate.com/ Portland Real Estate

    Although I am not too keen on the aesthetics of this home, I really like that it is off the grid. That is my goal, someday to have a house that is completely self sustainable and off the grid for food, water, electricity and anything else that I can.

  • http://www.merteninc.com robbieross

    This sounds like a great program to be a part of. Anyone know if the projects of Studio 804 privately funded?

  • jonny

    seems like a nuance to clean between the house and wood rain screen, and provides homes for bugs and wasp nest. the house looks like a modern done barn, not a home.

  • Carter C.

    Visited this house during the open house tours and, while a great concept, I can’t believe that more than two people could comfortably live in it. House has less than 1,000 sqf and rumor has the costs above $450,000. Still on the market at $325,000 and situated in a neighborhood where the average is around $110,000. As for the wind turbine, was informed that due to the trees and house there wasn’t enough wind to turn the turbine. Better title would be A Modern Boondoggle!

    • Jared

      @Carter C.
      Less than 1,000sf? Really, its about 2,500sf. Not sure what house you toured but it sure wasn’t this one. Also do a little more research and you’ll find some cookie cutter developments within 5 blocks going for around $300,000, some for more. Are they worth that?
      I drive by every so often and have seen the turbine cranking away in light breezes and absolutely humming in the winter wind. Wish I had the cash to buy it. I can appreciate a house like this one and recognize the value when it seems most can not.

    • Dillo

      Actually there is plenty of wind and the turbine works all the time – however, the batteries were never connected to store the power generated so this house is getting a tax break for being off the grid but really is not off the grid at all! It didn’t sell even when the price was dropped to $280K and your point about the size is well taken. It’s currently leased out to a couple. This house is just completely out of place in the neighborhood.

  • Moochie

    So disappointed in the location.  I think it feels very arrogant to have built a home like this on this block.  I drive by often to see if it has helped pull other properties up — but it hasn’t.  Cars on blocks, other homes storing appliances on their porches, it sticks out like a sore thumb.  Money would have been better spent upgrading the other properties, weatherizing, improving their efficiency.  This just looks like someone with a big ego said — I can do this!  This is exactly the type of home we’re looking for, but not at the cost of feeling like schmucks on our front step.  It doesn’t feel like the neighborhood was considered.  

  • Cordelia Brown

    Code-wise, how did you get it past WyCoKS?  I’m trying to greenhab a home in KCK and I”m told my house won’t pass inspection and get off of the UNFIT list until I get electric and use city water. 

  • Roger Siuda

    My daughter owns Studio 804″Modular 1″-It was built with 9-nine code violations, it is leaking, crumbling mess and KU and Rockhill are Stonewalling–

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