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DESIGNhabitat Works with Habitat to Promote Sustainable Design

Dhab picture of Burt Family in front of their new home

APLA faculty member Justin Miller and APLA School Head David Hinson have worked with the Alabama Association of Habitat Affiliates (AAHA) and the Alabama Homebuilders Association over the past year to help promote the integration of sustainable design and construction values more broadly and deeply within the culture of Alabama Habitat for Humanity affiliates. Working under the umbrella of the DESIGNhabitat Program, a thirteen-year partnership between APLA and AAHA, Miller and Hinson helped AAHA to secure a $67,000 grant to support the AAHA Sustainable Homeownership Program. This grant establish a two-tiered program of incentive grants designed to train and support Alabama HFH affiliates that commit to building sustainably designed and constructed new homes, each certified as Energy Star homes via the EPA’s Energy Star Certification program. The program was also designed to build capacity for sustainable design and construction within the Alabama Habitat affiliate community via training workshops focused on sustainable design and construction best practice standards. Working with graduate students from the Integrated Design and Construction program, Miller and Hinson provided design and construction technology support to affiliates participating in the program and developed a portfolio of prototypical home designs.

Image right: The Stewart Family home constructed from the DESIGNhabitat portfolio in Escambia County. [Autauga-Chilton County House]

Sixteen new Habitat homes were supported by the initial year of funding. Six of these homes also met the Green Energy Key certification standard, a broader standard of sustainable design and construction developed by the Alabama Homebuilders Association.  The incentive grants and design/construction support facilitated “first time” green building experiences for eight of the nine participating HFH affiliates. As a consequence of this program, the number of Alabama affiliates with at least one Energy Star-level home in their portfolio increased by thirty-six percent (from eleven to fifteen).