Stewart Herman '70 and his wife, Linda Herman, at their green home.

Some four years ago, heading into retirement, college professors Stewart Herman ’70 and his wife, Linda, mustered their courage and an army of architects, builders, and engineers to transform their 1907 Minneapolis home into a showpiece for green technology. They finished the job in March 2017. 

Since then the Hermans have hosted some 1,700 green-inclined visitors who wanted a look at what they accomplished. Articles about the house have appeared in a number of publications. As far Herman can determine, it is one of the very few 100-year-old houses in the country to be certified as both LEED Platinum and net-zero energy consumption.

“Actually, it runs net-positive, meaning it generates more electricity than it uses. We now offset 12 tons of CO2 per year through thick insulation, geothermal for heating and cooling, and solar for power,” Herman says. “One of my happiest moments was calling the gas company to have them cut the gas line. They resisted; I persisted.”

The couple has proved the point they wanted to make — that they could dramatically cut the carbon footprint of an ordinary old house in a very cold place, and Herman continues to encourage others to go green. He’s presented about the house to a regional American Institute of Architects meeting, and to environmental policy classes and groups at Macalester College, Loyola University, and the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. 

He’s volunteered his advice to the U.S. Green Building Council as it develops its own net-zero LEED certification. He is spearheading an effort to get his church to solarize half its electricity supply. And he is working with a neighborhood alliance to develop a rule to compensate users of solar electricity if neighboring structures were to block the sun from their solar collectors.

But sustainability isn’t everything, not even to someone with Herman’s commitment. 

“Thanks to gentle pressure from my wife, who not unreasonably thought that our retirement house should be attractive, comfortable, and convenient for aging-in-place, the renovation included a total gut rehab of the interior, keeping and, indeed, improving upon its traditional design,” Herman says.

Help us provide an accessible education, offer innovative resources and programs, and foster intellectual exploration.

Site Search