“The new home creates a concrete example of the practices the [Healthy House Institute] preaches and proves that a green, healthy home can be affordable and obtainable to a wide demographic.” - Green Building & Design Magazine

“The common wisdom in the housing industry is that custom homes are expensive, and custom green homes are even more so. But several Boise-based organizations have teamed up to prove the common wisdom is wrong—and to set up a pilot project to provide Idahoans with affordable, eco-friendly homes within the city limits.” - Home Energy Magazine

“...assembled a wider consortium...to provide custom-built, affordable, green homes in Boise...The partnership will expand in the coming months, creating more opportunities for Boise residents to live comfortable, beautiful, healthier, low-carbon-footprint lives.” - PR Newswire

The Healthy House Institute® (HHI) is pleased to announce it has engaged Boise-based Earthcraft Construction to build the new headquarters-home of the principals of the comprehensive educational resource and website that provides consumers information to make their homes healthier.

Mark L. Hixson, the founder and president of Earthcraft Construction, has more than 30 years’ experience in residential contracting and green building, pioneered straw bale homes in Boise, and Earthcraft’s recent USGBC LEED® project was Certified Gold. Earthcraft homes often include features such as:

  • Rainwater Harvesting for Irrigation
  • Drought-Tolerant & Indigenous Landscaping
  • Recycled Concrete (otherwise bound for the landfill) for Masonry & Retaining Walls
  • High Efficiency (95%) Furnace w/MERV 16 Filter 15-SEER Air Conditioning
  • Energy Star® Appliances and Lighting
  • Low VOC Finishes, Green-Label PLUS Carpet, FSC-Certified or Locally Harvested Lumber
  • Passive Solar
  • R32 Curtain Walls (Straw Bale)
  • R52 Roof Insulation
  • Solar Panels for Well Pump, Refrigerator & LED Lights
  • Solar Hot Water
  • "Permaculture" (Edible Landscaping)

“While HHI’s new headquarters-home will not include all of these features, it will be the greenest and healthiest structure we can afford to build, with the goal of modeling what can be done on a modest budget,” said Allen Rathey, president of HHI.

Features of the Home - BuildHealthy #1 (Pilot)

Advanced framing to allow for more insulation per/inch.

Soy-based foam - which greatly reduces harmful VOCs vs conventional spray-foam application - 1-inch thick sprayed in the interior wall cavity to seal all potential leak points and to boost overall R-value of exterior walls. The spray-foam also provides a direct thermal barrier reducing energy losses through the wall, keeping energy in the form of heating or cooling inside the home regardless of the season and temperature outside. With the use of the soy-based spray foam and structural sealing, we reduce heating and cooling loads internally reducing the size of the HVAC system and overall costs to operate the home.

Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV) to balance the air in the home, saving energy through an aluminum-core transfer process, as well as to provide fresh air within a well-sealed home.

Ductless mini split heat pumps are more efficient in overall operation vs. a conventional system. The mini-splits are simple to install, and by using them, we eliminate ducting that collects and spreads dirt and allergens.

A solar hot water system will reduce the water heating load for the home.

A tankless water heating unit has also been installed as a backup and regulator to the incoming water from the roof-mounted solar hot water system and storage tank.

Solar orientation – by positioning the home and orientating it to maximize solar heat gain in the winter and reduce heat exposure in the summer we reduce energy demands. We oriented this home - and designed it - to maximize southern exposure in the winter. We allow the sun to enter the home and heat the concrete floor slab (slab-on-grade construction without a crawlspace). The concrete floor is insulated underneath so sun energy absorbed by the slab doesn't escape into the earth below, but radiates into the home to warm occupants. Radiant electric flooring also helps.

Radiant electric floors as a backup heating source (low EMF technology).

Water treatment and filtration for health and budget. Soft water saves heating costs, reduces detergent use, and preserves appliances. Reverse Osmosis cleans up the water supply.

About HHI

HHI strives to be the most comprehensive educational resource available for creating healthier homes. To this end, HHI treats the home like an ecosystem with many interrelated parts, covering topics in-depth such as air and water quality, building, remodeling and furnishing, cleaning and housekeeping, health and safety, ventilation, lighting, energy efficiency and more. Rather than preaching to the converted, HHI seeks to reach a mainstream educated consumer with credible information merging the best of ‘green’ with the best of healthier homes research, indoor environmental data, health and medical science, into a practical, timely, easily digestible but comprehensive message. HHI strives to be a truly authoritative voice that has the ‘ear’ and trust of major media, influentials, and most importantly, the intelligent consumer.



From layout, to green features, to selection of natural and volatile chemical-free components and materials, the design process is crucial.


Encompassing the goals of a green and healthy home - on a moderate budget - funding is a critical step to ensure the project's completion within a reasonable amount of income.


The heavy-lifting (often literally). Clearing of land, laying of foundation, construction of home.






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Disclaimer: Neither BuildHealthy.com or the Healthy House Institute (HHI), nor educational partners listed, or any person acting on behalf of these groups makes any warranty, expressed or implied, with respect to the use of any information disclosed on these websites, or assumes any liability with respect to the use of, or for damages resulting from the use of, any information contained in/on these websites or in BuildHealthy.com or Healthy House Institute (HHI) information found elsewhere. The recommendations, statistics and information provided are strictly for the purposes of informing the public.

What is the largest energy saver?

Possibly the soy-based spray-foam insulation; with a properly built, sealed, and insulated building envelope, the home will perform efficiently and constantly as energy costs rise. The building envelope is the hardest and most costly to upgrade after the home has been constructed; however during construction, the building envelope is the most affordable to upgrade, such as by using the soy-based spray-foam, basic structural air sealing, exterior barriers, or additional insulation in the attic.

The solar hot water system is also a strong contender for the largest energy saver over the life of the home.

What part of the design are you most proud of? Aesthetically? Sustainably?

Architecturally, it’s a very attractive structure, but the solar water heating offers a green aesthetic, plus the landscaping will feature lots of edibles and fruit trees.

What has been the biggest challenge of the design?

The ductless mini splits and the HRV, as we are not attuned to these systems in the Boise-metro area as are other parts of the country or world. With our local climate, we have about 3 months in the winter and about 2 months in the summer during which we depend on our heating and cooling systems to keep us comfortable. The rest of the year is mild and - with a properly sealed, shaded, oriented, and landscaped yard and structure - the home can take advantage of natural ventilation as well as natural heating and cooling through convection air.


Yes - Energy Star... Though the home is not officially to be “LEED” or ”NAHB-Green” Certified, these standards have been good baselines to measure the home against.