Girl, 10, Builds Green Dream Home

Little kids are the big nudges in the environmental movement these days. Just ask all the grown-ups who began recycling because their sons learned about it at school, or who bought a hybrid car instead of a conventional one because their daughters kept nagging them about their carbon footprint.

Or, you could ask Jennifer Brook, a young British girl who drew a eco-friendly house for a contest run by a local housing developer. Her winning design provided the inspiration for actual houses that will soon be built as part of a community that emphasizes the use of recycled materials and energy saving features in its homes.

Brook, who was 10 when she conceived her "Eco Home of the Future," beat out 70 other children with her design, which was chosen by environmental activist David Bellamy. Her fanciful home featured solar panels, a TV powered by an exercise bike, light switches on the floor that would be activated when people enter and leave a room, and a system for feeding stale bread to birds.
Some of the more practical features from her drawing will be incorporated into two homes that a housing co-op, Redditch Co-operative Homes, will build in partnership with the Accord Group, a housing management company, and the Redditch borough council in central England. These features, including solar hot water and photovoltaic panels, a wildlife area, smart lighting, recycled water in the garden and a composting center, will contribute to making the homes carbon free.

A spokesperson for the Accord Group said Brook's drawing won because "It was imaginative, practical and met the key criteria that we could actually use the design to build a real house. Jennifer also spoke really well about her designs and rationale during the finalist stage."

Each home will cost £180,000 (about $280,000) to build, compared with £140,000 (about $224,000) for other green homes in the community. The UK has a code ranging from 0 to 6 that it uses to rate homes for sustainability. A standard house with no green features would rate a 0, while a carbon neutral home would rate a 6. The so-called Jennifer houses will be built to a code 6, while other homes in the community are usually 4s.

Brook, now 12, and her family live in their a somewhat less green, more traditional home in nearby Warwickshire, and aren't planning to move into either of the finished houses, which will be rented or sold. But the girl says she "can't wait to visit it with some of my friends once it's been finished,"

If this green preteen has her way, they'll no doubt drive a Prius to get there.
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