PATH Partners in Action
For more than 25 years, Habitat for Humanity International has been helping to make the dream of home ownership a reality for low-income families. Now, with technical assistance from PATH, several Habitat affiliates are learning to build homes that are not only affordable, but green, too.
With a ready volunteer labor pool, Habitat is well positioned to take advantage of technologies that offer solid returns in energy efficiency and durability and can be installed without contractor assistance. Volunteer-friendly technologies include radiant heating systems and PEX piping, among others. Insulation and sealing practices that increase energy efficiency are also easily manageable by volunteer teams.
"It's a pleasure to work with Habitat for Humanity," noted HUD's Dave Engel at a recent builder’s tour of a rehab project in Philadelphia, "because they are always willing to experiment with new technologies to improve the quality of their homes."
PATH's support of Habitat projects has included strategic planning, architectural and engineering designs and specifications, volunteer training, and testing of HVAC performance and energy conservation, as well as community outreach and promotion efforts. Among some of the PATH technologies and other environmentally-friendly building materials and systems considered for implementation in Habitat homes are OVE framing, engineered wood, hydro-air heating systems, home automation systems, low-e windows, and ENERGY STAR appliances, as well as energy- and resource-efficient construction practices.
"When we found out from the Habitat for Humanity International office that HUD was looking for partners to work with on inner-city rehab, we jumped at it," says Steven Jones, director of development and public relations for the Philadelphia Habitat affiliate. "We felt it was important, as we actively sought volunteers and donors for this project, that we demonstrate good stewardship. From the beginning, everyone-from the architects to the construction people to the volunteers-was excited about learning about more efficient technologies."
Now the affiliate is poised to pass on the benefits of advanced technologies to its homeowners, in the form of low utility and maintenance bills. "As an organization working to help low income families," says Jones, "it's a great concern of ours to make sure we build within their means."
With one PATH rowhouse nearing completion, Jones looks forward with the rest of the Philadelphia Habitat team to modeling other rehab projects on this energy-efficient prototype, as well as sharing it with other low-income housing groups. "Now that we've experienced it and built it, we believe very strongly in it."
Modular homes can offer a multitude of advantages over site-built homes, including manufacturing efficiencies, compressed cycle time, and quality materials and workmanship -- advantages that enable builders and developers to build better homes, faster, with increased profits. Genesis Homes, the country's only nationwide producer of modular homes selling direct to builders and developers, has been a PATH partner since its inception.
Genesis and PATH became acquainted through Genesis' parent company, Champion Enterprises, also a PATH partner. Champion worked with PATH, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Building America program, and the Consortium for Advanced Residential Buildings (CARB) -- one of the five Building America industry teams -- to create the model that launched the Genesis brand. The Marietta was an ENERGY STAR labeled home that also complied with the guidelines of the EarthCraft House, an environmentally-friendly homebuilding program of the Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association.
In 2000, Champion worked with PATH to build the first manufactured home constructed entirely of structural insulated panels.
"Genesis is proud of its relationship with PATH," says Roger Lasater, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Champion. "We consider the partnership an integral part of our ongoing dedication to building quality housing that meets the needs of builder and developer customers by reducing costs and increasing quality."
At the request of its builder and developer customers, Genesis builds ENERGY STAR labeled homes and can meet or exceed many local green building programs. Since its launch, Genesis has employed numerous advanced housing technologies as part of its commitment to building better homes, faster. These technologies include: category-5 wiring, fiber-cement siding, recycled content materials, recycled factory waste, horizontal axis clothes washers, direct vent, sealed combustion fireplaces, hybrid modular/panelized construction, information-age cabling and wiring, low-flow plumbing fixtures, low-VOC paints, all-steel perimeter-framed flooring, tilt-up modular roof construction and hot water recirculation systems.
In 2003, Genesis is unveiling its "Americana" series, a collection of Craftsman-style homes for urban, suburban and rural properties. The affordability of the series is achieved through an efficient off-site construction process and through the use of products that reduce energy consumption, such as high-performance windows, doors, insulation and appliances.
Content updated on 7/10/2003