The Silo Eco-Home was inspired by the strength and durability of the grain silo that survived an F5 tornado, virtually unscathed.

GREENSBURG, Kan. - Two years after an F5 tornado leveled the rural town of Greensburg, Kan., residents of the community are touring the first of 12 model homes constructed as part of The Chain of Eco-Homes. The first of these homes - the Silo Eco-Home - was inspired by the strength and durability of the grain silo that survived the devastating tornado, virtually unscathed. As such, the 2,000-square-foot single-family structure represents durability and sustainability to this community.

Built with concrete walls and roof, the home incorporates a variety of building techniques, energy-efficiency features and green living products and services, including a York® Affinity™ heat pump that provides heating and cooling to the home, as well as an Affinity high-efficiency media air cleaner, and an Affinity humidifier that delivers 24-hour filtration and humidity to the home as needed.

Donated by Johnson Controls through cfm Distributors Inc., with installation provided at no cost by York contractor Fahnestock Plumbing, HVAC, Electric, and Fireplaces, Wichita, Kan., the air-source heat pump is an appropriate choice for this environmentally friendly home, said the company. 

Fahnestock CEO George Fahnestock expects the HVAC system will account for as much as 30 percent of the 60 to 70 percent the home is expected to save in energy costs when compared to a more traditional home of the same size.

The high-efficiency heat pump is an 18 SEER unit that features R-410A refrigerant and has a 9.4 HSPF. Its variable-speed and two-stage compressor technology helps reduce the amount of energy required to heat and cool the home and the Hot Heat Pump technology uses compressor and control technology to eliminate drafts and increase room comfort.

The heat pump also has a QuietDrive™ fan system to decrease the operating sound level; a ComfortAlert™ compressor monitor that protects compressors against high and low pressure as well as excessive temperatures; and matched system components to ensure longevity and efficient performance. There is also a durable finish that protects against ultraviolet rays and rust creep.

“Working on the Silo Eco-Home project, we felt a keen responsibility to bring the very best technologies and experience to the table in the hopes of moving our industry and our community toward energy independence,” said Fahnestock. “The York Affinity system we installed is one of the most efficient home comfort systems on the market today, ensuring lower operating costs and longer life as well as comfort, quiet, and affordability.”


Lee Lindquist is the technical projects manager at Fahnestock, and a certified energy rater by the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET®).

“I rated the Silo Eco-Home and helped select the heating and cooling equipment that would operate most efficiently in this particular home,” said Lindquist.

“Energy efficiency and sustainability are becoming more important with the rising cost of energy, and people are beginning to realize the effects of limitless consumption. We’ve got to curtail our energy use, and as products get more efficient and people start designing with that in mind, businesses like ours need to stay abreast of the incentives and the technology that support energy efficiency. We have to provide energy-efficient solutions that are cost effective, and we need to be able to demonstrate the long-term impact of installing an energy-efficient system like heat pumps.”

The Silo home and its energy-efficient components will continue to be used for demonstration purposes as the rest of the town continues to make rebuilding materials choices.

“With many people going in and out throughout the day, the proven efficiency of this equipment becomes even more important to achieving the efficiency goals of the project,” explained Lindquist.

Donated by Johnson Controls through cfm Distributors Inc., Kansas City, Kan., and installed by Fahnestock Plumbing, HVAC, Electric, and Fireplaces, Wichita, Kan., the York® Affinity™ air-source heat pump was deemed an appropriate choice for this environmentally friendly home.


Organized by Greensburg GreenTown, a grassroots community-based organization that has worked side-by-side with city and county officials, business owners, and local residents to incorporate sustainable principles into their rebuilding process, The Chain of Eco-Homes project plans to build up to 12 model homes in Greensburg that will be available both as informational centers and as eco-lodging where people can experience green living firsthand.

“The heating and cooling system is a huge contributor to the overall efficiency goals of the home. Because the system that was installed is such an incredibly efficient system, the efficiency of the home is going to be even better than we anticipated,” said, Daniel Wallach, executive director and founder of Greensburg GreenTown. “It’s a state-of-the-art system, meaning it’s going to demonstrate to people just what’s possible and how to heat and cool a 2,200-square-foot home for as little as $50 to $100 per month.”

Greensburg GreenTown said it was appreciative of donors like Johnson Controls and Fahnestock. According to the organization, successfully communicating the organization’s efficiency message depends on donations and generosity. 

“It’s got to be folks that have vision and are willing to take a risk with us because this is a very new concept,” said Wallach. “Their donations of products and time are essential because if we’re to succeed in what we’re doing, we’ve got to have state-of-the-art products and systems that people are going to want to come and see.”

Publication date:05/24/2010