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10/05/2012 04:19 PM     print story email story         Page: 1  | 2  

Rescuing Vacant Homes, Revitalizing Communities

Page 1

This inspiring article from Solar Today is about a nonprofit, Builders of Hope. They do complete green retrofits to vacant or foreclosed homes, move them to clustered communities and sell them to low-income families at cost.  Major development projects are underway in 10 communities and 6 cities.

by Richard Crume

What can be done with the tens of thousands of vacant, abandoned and foreclosed houses found in virtually every community across America?

Builders of Hope is turning these houses into energy efficient, affordable homes.

Says Founder and CEO Nancy Welsh, "We have a greater number of houses sitting vacant than we have for decades, and at the same time, more families are in need of decent, reasonably priced housing than ever before. My goal is to transform these vacant houses into affordable, comfortable green homes in safe communities while creating jobs for local builders and the construction industry."

Americans demolish about 225,000 houses every year, often making room for new housing subdivisions, commercial developments or roadway construction. On average, each demolition results in about 35,000 pounds of debris, representing up to 30% of landfill content in many communities. The US is also experiencing an epidemic of foreclosures and many homes sit vacant for months.

By rehabilitating old, vacant houses, typically built between 1930-1960, and selling or renting them at affordable prices, Builders of Hope is helping to revitalize neighborhoods and prevent the destruction of perfectly good structures.

On average, 65% of most structures can be reused or salvaged, including valuable features such as hardwood floors and crown molding.

Retrofitting Green and Energy Lean

Under its Extreme Green Remodeling program, Builders of Hope obtains vacant houses and relocates them to new, clustered communities, where the homes are completely refurbished using the latest green materials and practices:

  • ceiling fans and exterior ventilation
  • spray foam insulation
  • efficient lighting
  • low-e windows
  • sealed crawl spaces
  • low-flow plumbing fixtures
  • Energy Star appliances and water heaters
  • energy efficient heating and cooling systems
  • low volatile organic building materials and sealants
  • rain barrels and drought tolerant landscaping
  • non-toxic tile and wood flooring, glues and paints

Other improvements typically include replacing wiring, plumbing, siding and roofing. An educational program helps new occupants understand how good habits, like cutting back the heating or air conditioning when away from home, can reduce energy costs.

Each rehabilitated home is obtained a low or no cost from a bank, city redevelopment program, highway construction site or individual property owner, and Builders of Hope picks up the cost of moving the house to its new location. Once rehabilitated, the houses are sold at cost to families earning less than 80% of the average median income.

Through its Upcycle program, Builders of Hope partners with banks, lenders and local governments to acquire and rehabilitate foreclosed and vacant rental properties, which are then made available to working-class Americans at affordable rents.

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Reader Comments (2)

Anita Bailey

Date Posted:
02/06/13 03:18 PM

The "Theory of Iceality" of Environmental Arts is the Aesthetics of the relationship between Humans and their Environment through the Arts, ultimately promoting an effective sustainable global Culture of Peace. At the ARK in Berea, American Cultural Ambassador, David Jakupca states that, "The special 'Theory of Iceality' belongs to a class of "principle-theories". As such it employs an analytic method. This means that the three elements which comprise this theory, Humanitarian, Environmental, Arts and Culture, are not based on hypothesis but on empirical discovery. The empirical discovery leads to understanding the general characteristics of natural processes". Practical models can then be developed which separate the natural processes into theoretical-mathematical descriptions. Therefore, by analytical means the necessary conditions that have to be satisfied are deduced. Separate events must satisfy these conditions. Experience should then match the conclusions. The special 'Theory of Iceality' and the general natural processes are connected. As stated above, the special 'Theory of Iceality' applies to all inertial physical phenomena and its relation to all other forces of nature. Although it is widely acknowledged that David and Renate Jakupca are the creators of the Theory of Iceality in its modern understanding, not all of the Jakupca's contemporaries accepted the new theory at once. However, the Theory of Iceality is now considered as the cornerstone of the modern sustainable global Environmental Art Movement and replicated by artists, architects and urban planners throughout the World Iceality is the measure of the connection between arts, civic engagement and the environment, which can be defined as promoting a sustainable positive and peaceful quality of life for all people.

Jeffrey Magus

Date Posted:
11/11/13 06:51 AM

Wow, that is fantastic! A company following their hearts. "Turing lemons into lemon-aid" and helping their fellow man.

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