sustainable, economical, urban construction


A project about building sustainably and economically in urban areas



conseously building in urban settings

Our mission is to build an affordable, energy efficient, environmentally responsible home within the city limits of downtown Ely, MN, and share the process through a series of informative articles. Our goal is to document the entire project through stages, including site analysis, architecture and design, material choices, construction, in addition to hands-on community involvement. We are eager to share articles on our website informing on the process, in addition to sustainable building tips + tricks.

Following project completion, we will be performing a 5-year study monitoring the house’s performance. This will result in a once-a-year comprehensive document detailing how the house performs and monitors for energy, including positive and negative issues that we can improve on, what materials worked well, what we would have approached differently, etc.

During this process we will educate on the financial advantages of building green, the process of solar installation, the benefits of using repurposed materials, sustainability systems, structural and design choices, and site location.


Project Stats

Fun facts about the build
2" Re-purposed isopolystyrene insulation
500 Sheets
Garage door rails for roof snow guard
200 Feet
Free fill of another excavator's project waste
1400 Cu Yards
Local forest tarmarak wood decking
20 Trees
Repourposed double pane insulated windows for garage salvaged from used sliding glass doors
6 Windows
Steel anchors for concrete footings are from re-purposed angle iron.
115 Ft
Used garage walk doors (1) 36” (1) 40” commercial insulated with glass
2 Doors

the team

only the best

the hills

Andy and Paula Hill have demonstrated a sustainable lifestyle at their past homestead. They both enjoy sharing their ideas and knowledge through classes and tours. Those visiting the Hill property include: Ely Folk School participants, Ely High School students, Vermilion Community College students, Minnesota Renewable Energy Home Tour.


the crew

Jacob - A VCC grad, finished his BA in Outdoor Education.  He moved to Ely to work at Timbertrail/Boundary Waters Outfitters an number of years ago.  Joined the construction team in May of 2019.

Anders - A VCC grad in Water Resource.  Started his own business here in Ely and does old house restoration along with other handyman jobs.

Daniel -  A current student of the South Dakota School of Mines, Mining Engineering Program, whose current goal is to get his masters degree in explosive engineering and blasting.


our sponsors

please support our sponsors

Since 1991, Heritage Window & Door has been providing exceptional quality fenestration products to the Northland.  Specializing in customer high-performance, eco-friendly windows wand doors that can have a substantial positive impact on the overall energy performance of a home or business, while helping to leave a light footprint on the world.


"Taking a relaxed approach to consultation, listening to input from all involved to influence decisions for beautiful windows, unique doors, energy efficiency and budget is key."


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