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Unity House | A Leed Platinum Sustainable House

In the end, it’s not just about the science and technology of Unity House. It’s something deeper, more mysterious, warmer–and it can’t be measured in BTUs. You hear it in Cindy Thomashow’s voice when she says, proudly, “We learned a tremendous amount about sustainability. It was the easiest house to maintain–incredibly comfortable and friendly.” You hear it when Steve Mulkey talks about this house that he’s inherited and the statement it makes: that it can be done, “that you can build a structure, here in the middle of Maine, that is operationally carbon neutral–that generates more energy than it consumes.”

And finally, it’s there in this new president’s vision for his school and for the future. “You get up in the morning,” he says, “and realize that this is the world, that there’s still great beauty and passion and elegance and poetry and music. Nature itself is worth getting up for.” It’s a house built by passion and sustained by it. We’re humans; we tinker. And we can be our own worst enemies. But we can also do great things.

Steve pauses to scratch Keeper’s ears. This scrappy little dog of questionable origin is joined, moments later, by Heather, his elegant golden-retriever friend, and together they slip through the south-facing sliding-glass door, which looks up the hill toward Unity’s newest building, TerraHaus, an 80-percent passive-solar dorm designed by GO Logic of Belfast, Maine. Then they’re off, racing toward the main campus of this small private college with a very big agenda.

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Updated Wednesday, February 20th, 2013
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