Purdue students make Lafayette home super-energy efficient, tours available

June 28, 2012  

bcm solarhouse

Purdue building construction management students helped renovate this older Lafayette, Ind., tract home into a 21st century model of energy efficiency. The students are hosting Saturday afternoon tours through July 28. (Purdue photo)
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue College of Technology students are hosting an open house for a rebuilt post-World War II, Lafayette, Ind., tract home after incorporating a myriad of 21st-century energy efficiency measures.

The now environmentally friendly Deep Energy Retrofit model home at 2150 Ulen Street is open to public tours from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. every Saturday through July 28.

The city of Lafayette purchased the foreclosed, distressed house in 2010, and Purdue students helped guide the process to gut the structure to the studs before rebuilding it with energy-efficient fixtures at every turn. Every crack or leak was sealed. New insulation was added to increase the exterior wall resistance to heat flow to a value of R-31 and the attic to R-61 (the higher the R-value the higher effectiveness of the insulation). Ductwork was sealed, and high-efficiency heating and cooling systems were installed, as were a heat-pump water heater and solar panels on the roof. Solar tubes were installed to bring natural light into windowless bathrooms.

Purdue building construction management doctoral student Eric Holt was the construction manager for the student-built "INhome" that finished in second place nationally at the 2011 SolarDecathlon in Washington, D.C. He's been involved in the construction and now the education of homeowners and contractors about deep energy retrofits.

"What we have shown with both houses is that highly efficient and eco-friendly living space can be created comfortably and affordably, often using off-the-shelf technology," Holt said. "We are encouraging people to visit this house in the Glen Acres Neighborhood so they can see how easily they can make improvements in their own homes."

The team performed an energy audit before construction work began. Utility companies and some nonprofits often will do such an inspection that identifies a house for energy efficiency deficiencies for free or a nominal fee.

The home includes multiple features, including Energy Star appliances, energy-efficient lighting, and low-flow plumbing fixtures, that are available at local hardware stores.

"People who have taken the tour have their eyes opened to what is easily attainable and leave motivated to make positive changes," said Rob Henry, a Purdue building construction management student who hosts tours.

An added third bedroom and an attached garage to the house to make it even more livable by modern expectations.

The home will eventually be sold to a low- to moderate-income buyer, but Purdue researchers will continue to monitor the energy efficiency in this living laboratory.

Writer: Jim Schenke, 765-237-7296, jschenke@purdue.edu

Sources: Eric Holt,  765-404-3441, eric@ericholtdesign.com

               Rob Henry, henry11@purdue.edu

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