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12 People You Need to Know in 2015: Steve Huff

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If there is an air of mystery about a former CIA counterintelligence agent who is building a virtually indestructible 72,000-square-foot chateau-style home in southern Christian County, then Steve Huff has an air about him.

But, the software-engineer-turned-castle-developer simply sees himself as a man who wants to spur widespread green-focused construction.

In 2011, national media giants such as The New York Times, Forbes magazine and “The Today Show” began reporting on Huff’s construction of the castle dubbed Pensmore. In the Ozarks, drivers along U.S. Highway 65 certainly have noticed. The sprawling property is being built with the help of Green Bay, Wis.-based TF Forming Systems, a business Huff invested in for its developing mix of energy efficient and durable concrete construction.

The home, he says, can withstand winds of 200 mph, fortified by TF Forming Systems’ distinctive insulated concrete forms. But more important to Huff, energy savings is key. He took on the less then $10 million project to demonstrate energy advantages that could potentially be realized using TF’s reinforced concrete.

“It is technically a residence and we do spend time there,” he says. “The real reason to build it was to test these sort of full-scale demonstrations, so we could prove to people the energy performance and durability of something that could be a school, an assisted living home or a police station.”

Huff and family stay in the guest quarters when in from Virginia, while the unfinished main part of the house remains in development for the foreseeable future. Huff’s opened up the space as a testing center for students and faculty from the physics, computer science and math departments of his alma mater, Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia.

“It really is a kind of laboratory for ongoing research,” he says.

After an early career in the Army and with the CIA, Huff saw an opportunity in the early 1990s to develop software to help the government better process satellite imagery. He founded Sensor Systems, a company he would later sell for an undisclosed amount to Austin, Texas-based security and intelligence firm Overwatch Systems Ltd., where he served as president for two years.

These days, he’s working with his family’s Pensmore Foundation when he’s not testing and tinkering at the chateau – where he says he spends about a quarter of his time.

Living primarily in Virginia, the Brunswick, Mo.-native travels frequently as his chateau continues to draw queries from the likes of the Wall Street Journal, CNN and The Travel Channel. But, why build in Highlandville?

Huff says he likes the area and its approach toward building regulations, noting constructing Pensmore in Virginia would have been a nightmare.

“I like the views and being away from traffic,” Huff says. “I like the four seasons and the culture. It’s a fairly liberty-loving area.”[[In-content Ad]]


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