Basic Information

Our Solution

Old Home Cold Home

Our tagline:

Take your home from an energy suck to net zero.

Our pitch:

We live in the northern hemisphere of North America where winter lasts up to eight months. Every season presents extreme weather conditions with winter temperatures dropping to negative 65 degrees Fahrenheit for weeks at a time and summer temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Winds blow almost every other day and sometimes reaching speeds up to 75 mph. The majority of our homes on Standing Rock are built by Housing Urban Development standard, which are inefficient for the weather conditions. The result is high energy consumption with large carbon foot prints. We rely heavily on fossil fuels for heating and cooling, like propane to heat and coal to generate electricity for cooling. 

My home was built in 1932, it was a school house for the Cannon Ball Elementary school teachers. In 1984, the house no longer needed by the school and bids were excepted by school board. My father, John Thunder Hawk put the highest bid in and was awarded the house. Over the years, the house lacked the necessary maintenance and was in need of many repairs. At the beginning of the century, houses were constructed much different than today. The two bedroom, one bath 1200 sqft stick house has pine siding over buffalo board on the exterior. The interior plaster walls cover wood laths. It has solid hard wood floors throughout, and the heating system was a fuel oil radiator heater (converted to forced air propane furnace). Since we owned the home, we have made many upgrades. Being conscious of our environment and wanting to reduce my families carbon foot print, I want to retrofit my old home to a net zero or passive living space. Until recently, I didn't think it was possible to retrofit my house but with new technology and desire, it can be done. 

If our old home can be converted to net zero or passive, then other homes in our community can be converted. Most people on Standing Rock live at the poverty level and as the cost of fossil fuels continue to rise, it becomes a hardship to simply heat or cool their homes. Our house was built before the HUD standards and I always felt fortunate because it seemed like my home was better built than the community houses which I now realize isn't the case. I can also feel the wind blowing through our home, windows frosting up from the inside, and frost developing in the northern corners of the basement.  I came to realize that every house on Standing Rock can be retrofitted so we are not using so much energy. Instead of depending on the propane companies and the electric distribution coop, we should be striving to find ways to generate renewable enough energy independently. Decreasing our fossil fuel consumption and lowering our energy expenses.   

Where our project is located:

Cannon Ball, ND, USA

The topic our project addresses:

  • Solar
  • Hydropower
  • Housing
About Your Solution

What makes our project innovative:

To build a new net zero or passive house, it will require a huge expense. Most homes on the Standing Rock Nation already exist. Rather than building new, take the existing houses and retrofit it to net zero. Housing accounts for nearly a quarter of energy use, and energy efficiency updates are not happening or are slow to happen in old homes. There are companies that are putting solar panels on roofs, facades over exterior walls, and placing a new energy module in the back yard that holds everything needed for sustainable heat, hot water, power, and ventilation.

How we use technology in our project:

I am exploring new methods to retrofit my home. The technology is rapidly improving. I know my home has out dated insulation, the basement has frost on the walls from condensation, and the windows have air leaks. Each retrofit will be different, the first step would be to assess the energy efficiencies and create a plan. The technology I will use is polyurethane foam spray, solar panels, facades, window upgrades, smart systems, efficient appliances, and a new cube shaped energy module. 

Our project goals over the next 12 months:

In the next 12 months, I want to have an assessment done for my house, a completed plan, and the retrofit to where my home is net zero. I want to have a blue print for other homes in the community.

Our vision over the next three to five years to grow and scale our project to affect the lives of more people:

In the next 3 to 5 years, I would like to see 5 houses retrofitted and converted to net zero. A study and report to demonstrate energy savings will be made available for others to consider and allow for us to scale up and retrofit the entire community someday. 

Highlights from our project:

I am in the idea phase, I don't have any highlights yet.

The cities where we operate or plan to operate in the next 12 months. First city:

Cannon Ball, ND, USA

Second city:

Fort Yates, ND, USA

Third city:

Bull Head, SD, USA

Fourth city:

Wakpala, SD, USA

Fifth city:

Kenel, SD, USA

How our project will be accessible and affordable to our community:

By retrofitting my house, I will be able to share best practices and new technologies. By exploring, researching, and actually retrofitting an older home like mine, we can possibly become our own net zero retrofit contractor and provide the service and employment to our community.

How many people we are currently serving with our project:

There are 1000 residents in the community of Cannon Ball. There are approximately 250 homes that currently exist. It is our responsibility to explore ways to make every home in our community net zero. If we can convert the entire community, then the entire Standing Rock Nation. If one nation can do it all nations should do it. It is like dropping a pebble in a pond creates a ripple affect. 

How many people we will be serving with our project in the 12 months and the next 3 years:

In the next 12 months, if we can convert our home to net zero energy, then we will share with those interested in doing the same to theirs. In the next 3 years, I want to see 5 homes retrofitted to net zero. By converting to net zero, people will experience low to no energy costs. Our homes should be self-sustaining.  

About Your Team

How our project team is organized:

Not Registered as Any Organization

Explaining our organization:


How many people work on our project team:


How many years we have been working on our project:

Less than 1 year

Our revenue model:

All homes converted to net zero is possible and there is a movement to reducing our fossil fuel consumption. Without trying to make a profit but to learn and share on how to use less, lose less, and produce our own energy.

Partnership Potential

Why we are applying to Solve:

Converting and retrofitting an old home to net zero has been something that I have been trying to better understand for the last 3 years. In that short period of time, the advancements in technology has led me to believe that it is possible. I believe Solve has the desire and the knowledge necessary to tap into the technology, so I can create a plan and implement. 

The key barriers for our project:

Because of the location, it will be hard to find a net zero retrofiting contractor with experience. As we gain knowledge, we can train local contractors and offer jobs where they are needed. Solve can help us search for a reliable retrofit contractor that is willing to train others. 

The types of connections and partnerships we would be most interested in if we became Fellows:

  • Organizational Mentorship
  • Technology Mentorship
  • Impact Measurement Validation and Support
  • Grant Funding
  • Preparation for Investment Discussions

Other types of connections and partnerships we would be interested in:


Solution Team

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