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March 21, 2003

Builders, Architects Tour Energy-Efficient Prototype Rehab Home

PATH, Philadelphia Habitat for Humanity Open Rowhouse to Share Advanced Building Techniques with Industry

(March 20, 2003) Despite an unrelenting March rain, more than 30 builders, architects, and housing agency representatives gathered in a Philadelphia rowhouse to take in the latest technologies that are beginning to change the face of affordable housing. Entitled "Rethinking Rehab: Building Better, Building Greener" the tour was designed to show visitors an innovative approach to urban rehab during the construction of a 1,200 square foot rowhouse in South Philly. Sponsored by the Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing (PATH) and Philadelphia Habitat for Humanity, the event allowed builders and other visitors to observe advanced framing techniques, insulation practices that far exceed code requirements, and many innovative technologies that enhance housing quality and environmental performance while keeping costs down.

Occurring just weeks after Philadelphia area residents have seen an increase in natural gas costs, the tour offered building industry professionals fresh examples of energy-efficient innovations, such as radiant heat flooring, low-e windows, and more. With an injection of engineering support from PATH, this Philadelphia Habitat for Humanity rowhouse is expected to be ENERGY STAR ® rated, making it 25% more energy efficient than similar homes.

Dave Engel from HUD encourages builders to use innovative technologies.

Prior to the tour, Dave Engel of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (pictured at right), which administers PATH, and Tim Block, Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia, described the organizations' partnership, discussed the special importance of energy efficiency in low-income homes, and described the home's features. Steven Jones, also of Habitat, thanked key staff as well as the sponsors who provided funding for the project. Kathy Murray, Chief of Staff to City Council President Anna Verna, emphasized the importance of affordable housing options in the city.

Front of Philly rowhouse
As tour guides Don Cerra and Bambi Tran explained, a "whole house" approach to the rehab effort enabled the team to see the relationships among the various components-from the framing to the insulation to the heating system to the appliances and more-and made possible an end result that is exceptional in its efficiency as well as its affordability. When complete, the rowhouse will serve as a prototype for Habitat for Humanity affiliates and other affordable housing developers involved in rehabilitation projects.

This project is one more addition to a growing list of PATH collaborations with Habitat for Humanity to implement advanced building technology in an affordable home format. The house includes such PATH technologies as fiber cement siding, radiant floor heating, low-VOC finish paints, energy-efficient appliances, plastic plumbing manifold and PEX piping, low-e windows, and an optimum valued engineered design.

Radiant heat piping Radiant heat piping (pictured at right), which was left exposed for the demonstration, was installed with volunteer labor.

About PATH

PATH is a public-private initiative dedicated to accelerating the development and use of technologies that radically improve the quality, durability, energy efficiency, environmental performance, and affordability of America's housing. PATH offers a wealth of information and other tools for builders, developers, housing providers, and homeowners primarily through the PATH Web site,

About Philadelphia Habitat for Humanity

Philadelphia Habitat for Humanity is a non-profit housing organization that works in partnership with people in need to build simple, decent homes, selling them at no profit through a no-interest loan. Thousands of volunteers work alongside future homeowners, who contribute 350 hours of "sweat equity". To date, Philadelphia Habitat has rehabilitated seven homes in South Philadelphia, where its efforts along with those of other affordable housing advocates have begun to turn around decades of decline. Citywide, the Philadelphia affiliate has created more than 100 homes through rehabilitation and new construction.

Philadelphia Habitat for Humanity is grateful to the coalition of sponsors that has made possible the rehabilitation of 1026 South Colorado Street. They include the Church of St. Thomas of Villanova, the Augustinian Order, and Villanova University students and alumni. Additional funding for sustainable construction was provided by the Starbucks "Make Your Mark" Foundation.

Content updated on 3/8/2005

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