Ouroboros South and East: Saving Energy in The Home

Wilson Clark shares information on the Ouroboros South and Ouroboros East inner-city projects where the goal is saving energy in the home to eventually become a zero energy home.

| November/December 1975

Wilson Clark, Co-Director of Environmental Policy Institute in Washington, D.C., is the author of Energy for Survival published by Doubleday-Anchor Press in both hard cover and paperback. 

I recently visited a St. Paul, Minnesota inner-city house that both was, and wasn't, like the other homes in its community. The dwelling — located on Laurel Avenue, at the periphery of a 30-square-block Model Cities urban redevelopment program — has the square, bulky lines of its neighbors. Unlike them, however, the old building is a live-in test lab for a number of energy conservation ideas aimed at saving energy in the home. It also will soon contain one of the first solar heating systems to be retrofitted to an "ordinary" urban home.

Ouroboros South and Ouroboros East: Saving Energy In The Home

The house — known as "Ouroboros East" — is being completely renovated by a team of students from the architecture and mechanical engineering departments of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis under the direction of architecture professor Dennis Holloway.

This is the second major project that Holloway has undertaken in an effort to demonstrate that energy self-sufficiency may be possible on a dwelling-by-dwelling basis through the application of solar power, proper design, and the reuse of resources which our culture now squanders and throws away. The name "Ouroboros" has been given to both undertakings, since that mythical serpent regenerates itself by devouring its own tail . . . thus symbolizing the philosophy of recycling.

Professor Holloway's first house, "Ouroboros South", grew out of an environmental design course that he taught early in 1973. The class was broken down into working groups of 10 students and each team was assigned the task of drawing up a specific system for a largely self-sufficient house (which, itself, was mythical at the time). Some groups devised wind power systems, other solar collectors, still others attempted to integrate native materials and local climatic factors into the final design. Taken together, the whole project was aimed squarely at creating a self sufficient dwelling which would recycle its own wastes.

When the class had finished its winter-term assignment, Holloway was so impressed by the saving energy in the home results that he decided to solicit backing for the construction of a house built to the students' specifications.

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