RENEW IOWA: Iowa couple hopes Gaia Center can help others learn to live green

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For the past three years a central Iowa couple has spent weekends building their dream home. What makes this place different is what they plan to do with it when they're done.

From the outside the building on an acreage outside Colfax looks like a pretty normal construction project. But Jon Olverin and Tizzy Hyatt say if you take a closer look you'll see what makes it so different.

The wood beams come from trees on their land and almost everything else used to build it is recycled. Solar panels and a wind generator will also be installed.

It's something this couple dreamed up after they moved away. "We moved back to Iowa, we're both from here. We're those boomerang Iowans you hear about," says Tizzy

They're calling it the Gaia Center. Gaia is Greek for earth.

Jon and Tizzy say they will live here and use it as a place where others can come and learn about sustainable living. They hope to have classes, but really, they say the best way to teach is by example.

"We know there's other organizations doing individual green building or alternative energy or organic farming but we'd really like to be a one stop demonstration to show how these things come together to make a viable farmstead," says Jon.

Over the summer there was a major bump in the road for the Gaia Center. The heavy rain in August caused damage to one of the unique features of this house, the straw insulation bales, and now Jon and Tizzy have had to come up with Plan B.

"We had water that infiltrated our plaster that caused some of our straw to fail," says Jon.

For now, they'll use insulation made from recycled denim. They hope this setback won't stop them from finishing before winter.

Though the process hasn't been perfect, Jon and Tizzy are still focused on making this a place where they can live and teach the kind life they think will make Iowa a better place.

Jon and Tizzy say they've raised all the money for the project on their own but they are looking for material donations.

If you'd like to make material donations check out the Gaia Center's website