Habitat for Humanity Builds Green Homes

The new Habitat for Humanity builds green homes. The Green Team program allows volunteers to build energy-efficient, low-cost green homes.

| April/May 2003

Learn how Habitat for Humanity builds green homes for those in need.

Habitat for Humanity Builds Green Homes

With their sweat equity, and the guidance and sponsorship of Habitat for Humanity, the Valadez family built their energy- and material-efficient Earth Smart home in Denver, Colorado. A solar collector mounted on the rooftop helps heat the household's water.

Habitat for Humanity's contribution to providing affordable housing is crucial with nearly 12 percent of Americans — 33 million people — living below the official poverty line (now $18,104 per year for a family of four). Although the immediate need to provide low-cost shelter is obvious, what is becoming increasingly important is the ability to ensure that these houses are affordable to their owners over the long term. That means building homes that incorporate energy-efficient measures and technologies in their design. And Habitat's Green Team is doing just that.

Green Homes for Families, for the Future

Habitat's Environmental Initiative provides "green building" education and training to volunteers working with local Habitat affiliates. A special network of volunteers, known as the Green Team, leads the initiative in promoting energy-efficient, environmentally friendly construction practices.

"The purpose of the Green Team," says Green Team National Manager Graham Davis, "is to help Habitat affiliates build the kind of homes that families could hand over to their children's grandchildren."

Three principles guide Green Team building projects: 1) energy efficiency, including wise use of construction materials; 2) sustainability; and 3) maintenance of good indoor air quality. The team encourages builders and designers to construct homes with minimal impact on the environment. Team members also urge affiliates to incorporate a concise plan for reclaiming and recycling leftover materials, minimizing the use of natural resources and reducing the impact on the land. Beyond the physical structure, they also address human health issues, striving to create buildings that are free of toxic materials and that can be heated and cooled with the least amount of energy.

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