EPICS, Habitat to show off 'green' home being built in BioTown

March 16, 2010

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue University's Engineering Projects in Community Service and Habitat for Humanity of Lafayette will host a two-day seminar March 26-27 focused on building affordable, energy efficient and environmentally friendly homes.

The program is part of a two-year project to design and build an energy efficient and sustainable Habitat for Humanity house in Reynolds, Ind.  The second day of the program will feature a visit to Reynolds where the house is under construction.

Reynolds, known as BioTown, USA, is attempting to become energy self-sufficient by converting agricultural products and byproducts into sustainable energy sources. The town also wants to develop housing that is affordable while being energy efficient and environmentally friendly.

The project, partly funded by a $100,000 grant from the Ford Motor Co. Fund, was launched in October 2008. Since then, students in the engineering program, known as EPICS, and Habitat personnel have been working to identify and analyze green building strategies, build the home, and design training for other Habitat affiliates to use in constructing similar green homes. The design uses best practices for building a green home that can be followed by a volunteer work force.

Participants in the seminar will travel to Reynolds on March 27 to see the home, which is expected to be at the stage of hanging drywall, said Doug Taylor, Habitat for Humanity of Lafayette executive director.

The first day of the seminar will be held at Purdue, and discussion topics will cover various aspects of energy efficient and sustainable construction from windows and lighting to appliances and building materials.

The seminar serves as training for Habitat personnel from throughout the region, although the public can attend. Registration is required by contacting Taylor at 765-404-9210.

"This project is important to Habitat because we want to be leaders in developing affordable housing that is energy efficient and sustainable," Taylor said. "It's particularly important for our clients, whose incomes are restricted, that their homes use as little energy as possible."

EPICS creates teams of undergraduates who earn academic credit for multiyear, multidisciplinary projects that solve engineering- and technology-based problems for community service and educational organizations.

"The project with Habitat for Humanity is perfect for our students," said William Oakes, associate professor of engineering education and EPICS director. "They are working on something that combines engineering skills with techniques that meet energy and environmental standards. All of that will serve them well when they begin their careers."

EPICS was founded at Purdue in 1995. The program now involves 20 departments and 29 local and Purdue partnerships. EPICS programs also now operate at 19 universities in the United States and one in New Zealand.

Habitat for Humanity builds and rehabilitates houses with the help of homeowner families and volunteers. The houses are sold to the families at no profit and financed with affordable loans. The monthly mortgage payments are used to build more Habitat houses.

Writer:  Judith Barra Austin, 765-494-2432, jbaustin@purdue.edu  

Sources:  William Oakes, 765-494-3892, oakes@purdue.edu
                   Doug Taylor, 765-404-9210, doug@lafayetteHabitat.org

Note to Journalists:  A schedule of events can be found at http://www.lafayettehabitat.org/events/index.php?ID=75