Sustainable Houses

Organization Converts Old Homes into Modern Sustainable Houses


Photo via Builders of Hope

Right now in America there are over one million homes slated for demolition, but creating even more debris apart from what we already produce doesn’t exactly scream eco-friendliness. Luckily, the guys at Builders of Hope have come up with an alternative – restore old houses, giving them a sustainable makeover.

Builders of Hope, an organization working to provide Americans with affordable and sustainable housing, believes in giving doomed properties a second chance, thus addressing several major issues that are currently plaguing the US’ housing system: the lack of affordable homes, the lack of construction-related debris landfills and the low number of sustainable houses. They believe many houses from the 30’s and 60’s can be restored into affordable green homes for many communities, and according to a study of North Carolina University, their Extreme Green Rehabilitation model impacts the environment half as much as conventional home building methods. “Home recycling and our Extreme Green Rehabilitation model are not only economically viable solutions to the affordable housing crisis, they are critical components to the lasting sustainable revitalization efforts in any urban neighborhood. The study found that our methods of construction defer more than 19 tons of carbon dioxide from being emitted per house. Just think how that adds up when you’re rebuilding entire neighborhoods in states across the country.” said Nancy Welsh, founder and CEO of Builders of Hope.

The organization was founded in 2006, after Welsh realized the impact of demolishing homes on our environment. Over 250,000 houses are destroyed every year, and they generate almost 10 billion tonnes of debris, flooding community landfills, and contributing to the lack of affordable housing. “We have a greater number of houses sitting vacant than we’ve had in decades and more individuals and families in need of healthy affordable housing than ever before” Welsh says. “The success of our community is being nationally heralded as a universal solution to the housing crisis facing many of our nation’s cities.”

Most of the houses rehabilitated by the organization based in Raleigh, North Carolina, were built during the 1930’s and 60’s and include several salvageable materials like wood flooring, solid-surface countertops, crown molding and built-ins. About 65% of the old structure is saved and fitted with new HVAC systems, siding, electrical work and plumbing. Builders of Hope workers also replace insulation, double-pane windows and roofs for improved energy efficiency. Other sustainable construction features include passive solar orientation, fluorescent lighting, low-E windows, low-flow plumbing fixtures, exterior ventilation, low VOC materials and sealants, large front porches to reduce heating and cooling bills, rain barrels and drought tolerant landscaping.

To make its work known to the world Builders of Hope is launching a book called Builders of Hope, about their innovative Extreme Green Rehabilitation model.



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