Better, Easy-to-Build, Energy-efficient Homes

An innovative new home design may be the answer for low-income individuals and families.
October/November 2008
http://www.motherearthnews.com/green-homes/low-income-housing.aspx




After working on an inexpensive stick-built house for a family in Mexico in 2006, Tom and Jane Pirelli realized there must be a better design for affordable, comfortable housing for low-income families. So they created the Arial Home to provide a safe, durable option.

The houses are built of steel panels insulated with polyurethane (sort of like a refrigerator the size of a cottage). And although the houses follow a simple design and provide only 380 square feet of living space, they include a bedroom, bathroom (with running water and a toilet) and a kitchen/living area. A team of volunteers can construct the house in about a day (not including the concrete pad). Plus, the metal insulated panels used in the building process are fabricated near the construction site to provide jobs for the local economy.

The cost to build an Arial Home is about $6,000. The Arial Homes organization estimates the cost per person per year is less than traditional wood or earthen homes built by other charitable organizations. They say the structures are more comfortable and sturdier. And they’re not only low maintenance, but impervious to water and termites. Most homes use a solar photovoltaic system to power compact florescent lights and the water pump. Graywater from the shower is used to water the owners’ gardens. For information on volunteering to help build an Arial Home, visit the Arial Home Initiative.