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Affordable Green Housing

Affordable green house design is being developed by Habitat for Humanity

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Green housing is all the rage -- until sticker-shock arrives! It is generally observed that "traditional" -- can you call green design 'traditional' already? -- traditional green design concepts advocated by architects and interior designers come with that "extra special something" that not only delivers cutting edge design and beauty, but the high-end price tag affordable only by some clients.

How about green design for the rest of us? It's coming... in fact it has been here for centuries in one form or another. We just have to think differently about green design. Green design is NOT about the latest fads in materials or devices. It's about designing to use mother nature's natural strategies and to fit our budget while being respectful and smart about earth's natural life support system. You can review affordable housing case studies online, including this housing development in Oakland, CA.

The hurricanes along the Gulf Coast have provided financial stimulous to nonprofits who are helping devastated communities cope with replacement housing for people who have lost everything. Flordia has been repeatedly hit. Georgia and Alabama are close behind. California doesn't cope with hurricanes, but flooding and fire have delivered devastating blows to communities in our state.

Habitat for Humanity has become a leader in affordable housing and they have now refined their strategy to include green building of affordable homes. They are a group worth investigating if you want to learn about creative and proven techniques to maximize housing and minimize cost.

One affordable green home built by the Lynchburg, Virginia chapter of Habitat for Humanity has been dubbed the Earthwise House.

Earthwise House, Virginia

This prototype affordable green home uses an extensive menu of energy-efficient techniques:
  • passive solar design
  • thicker insulation
  • superwindows
  • compact fluorescent lamps
  • solar water pre-heaters
  • high-performance plumbing fixtures
Added cost was offset by making heating and air-conditioning systems smaller or unnecessary. But the big payoff is in lower operating costs

The Habitat affordable-house designs in a planned housing development of affordable houses that feature smart design will have

  • natural cross-ventilation
  • white roofs to deflect solar heat
  • an advanced water-treatment plant to reclaim water for irrigation
  • narrow streets to slow cars and encourage pedestrian use
  • trees for natural cooling
  • and public greens and amenities within walking distance of the houses

These ideas have all been used before in high-end, "neo-traditional" communities, where homes typically cost several times more than those at Jordan Commons. Yet such developments draw on common-sense techniques used for centuries -- precisely because they're efficient, and therefore affordable.

To develop a synthesis of green and affordable design concepts, Habitat teamed up with Rocky Mountain Institute's Green Development Services and two other environmental groups to conduct a symposium of architects, builders, environmental experts, and Habitat affiliates from 22 states. They came together to hammer out a set of guidelines for builders of low-cost green homes. Among their recommendations:

  • increased emphasis on reusing and renovating existing buildings (which, compared to building new ones, saves energy, money, space, and infrastructure)
  • creating a network of building professionals to advise local groups
  • and initiating a model project to demonstrate the principles laid out in the report
Habitat for Humanity also reclaims building materials for reuse by consumers and businesses. There are several Habitat for Humanity stores in California. See their list for the latest locations.

City/Restore Name Address Contact
Butte County HFH Restore
2288 Park Ave #A
Chico, CA 95928
Phone: (530) 895-1271
Disc. Home Improvement Store
1655 West 6th St #109
Corona, CA 92882
Phone: (951) 256-4110
17700 S Figueroa St
Gardena, CA 90248
Phone: (866) 746-7434
Grass Valley
Nevada County Restore
133355 Grass Valley Ave
Grass Valley, CA 95945
Phone: (530) 274-3761
630 Kearney Ave
Modesto, CA 95350
Phone: (209) 575-4585 x112
9235 San Leandro Blvd
Oakland, CA 94603
Phone: (510) 777-1447
167 Lambert St
Oxnard, CA 93036-1044
Phone: (805) 485-6065
Builders Surplus Store, SGV
770 N Fair Oaks
Pasadena, CA 91103
Phone: (626) 792-3838
180 Industrial Dr., Bldg. E
Placerville, CA 95667
Phone: (530) 621-2111
Riverside HFH Restore
2121 Atlanta Ave
Riverside, CA 92507-2441
Phone: (951) 784-9474
Sacramento HFH Restore
426 N 7th
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 440-1215
San Diego
San Diego Restore
10222 San Diego Mission Road
San Diego, CA 92108
Phone: (619) 516-5267
Santa Ana
2200 S. Ritchey Street
Santa Ana, CA 92705
Phone: (714) 434-6202
Santa Maria
2053 Preisker Ln Ste B & C
Santa Maria, CA 93456
San Joaquin Co,Inc HFH Restore
2050 E Fremont St
Stockton, CA 95267
Phone: (209) 465-5054
3250 La Cruz Way
Templeton, CA 93446
Phone: (805) 434-0486
Fax: (805) 434-0586
Tulare County ReStore, HFH of
715 S Bridge
Visalia, CA 93279
Phone: (559) 734-4056

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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