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Sustainable or “green” building means designing and constructing houses that are efficient and durable, use less resources, healthy to live in, and are affordable. – Habitat for Humanity home construction technologies
Greater Albuquerque Habitat for Humanity (GAHH) home-building is different than any other by leveraging community support, volunteers and donated materials to ensure the cost of construction stays low. But what the community may not realize is that GAHH is committed to “green” construction practices using energy efficient technology, limiting construction waste, reducing water usage, and building homes that are less expensive to maintain. Making homes affordable for the long term is necessary to ensure low-income homeowners can truly afford ALL the costs associated with owning a home.
We are committed to helping people develop stability in their lives through access to safe, sustainable, energy-efficient homes. Our current development, the Mesa del Rio Project in the Los Volcanes community, will provide 22 quality, energy efficient homes for Habitat families. With an affordable, no-interest loan, Habitat families have more money to spend on basic necessities.
Energy Star Certified for New Homes
The immediate need for Habitat to provide affordable housing for low income families in Albuquerque is obviously important. However, equally important is Habitats’ long term commitment to sustainability by reducing energy consumption through simple, low cost design measures which save our families money over the life cycle of their home. Improved thermal performance, LED lighting, high efficiency appliances, furnace and water heater and other amenities contribute to the comfort, affordability and overall health of our homeowners.
The Energy Star Certified Habitat homes currently under construction in our Mesa Del Rio Project have a preliminary HERS rating of 52. The HERS index is a nationally recognized scoring system for measuring a home’s energy performance. The U.S. Department of Energy has determined that a typical resale home scores 130 on the HERS index while a standard new home is awarded a rating of 100 (based on 2006 energy standards). Habitat is determined to reach our sustainable project goals with an impressive HERS rating of 52, if/when successful, Habitat homes will be 48% more efficient than the average new home!
In order for Habitat homes to earn an Energy Star Certification, the homes must be evaluated by an independent third party Energy Star Qualified rater. The rater will ensure that the homes meet or exceed the strict requirements for Thermal Enclosure, HVAC System Installation with Contractor/Rater Checklists and the Water Management System Checklist.
Focus on Long Term Goals, Not Short Term Crises
GAHH is one of the few organizations in Albuquerque providing new energy efficient, low-income home construction combined with education and support for families earning between 30 – 60% of the median income. Our program not only allows low-income families to own homes, but also improves their safety and quality of environment, empowers them to build financial equity, develops important life skills, and increases their ability to focus on long-term goals, not short-term crises.
Beyond building sustainable houses, Habitat is also keeping items out of the landfill and repurposing building materials and home goods through our ReStore – a sustainable retail outlet. Part of our mission is the commitment to recycling, reusing, and refurbishing to ensure a cleaner community.
We are driven by the success of the people we serve – the health and financial stability of their future ensures we are meeting our goals and our mission to build community – one home, one family at a time. Thinking critically about how we build, how we can up-cycle materials and how we can create a safer, cleaner, more affordable and sustainable way of living is one of our core measurements of success.
links provided for informational purposes only
Check list of energy efficient construction
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10 Ways to Shrink Your Energy Bills
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Architectural Sustainability in Action
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Thank you to Bill Reilly, GAHH Construction Manager and Margaret Garcia, GAHH Grant Writer for supplying the information and technical knowledge for this blog post.