Habitat home helps revitalize a deteriorating community

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A. Sue Weisler

RIT students, faculty and staff raised the walls this fall at the first RIT-sponsored sustainable Habitat for Humanity house in Rochester. Construction on the home will continue through its completion, slated for February. To volunteer, call (585) 475-6056 or e-mail ppwccl@rit.edu.

To celebrate the continued revitalization of this area, RIT joined with Flower City Habitat for Humanity to host a “wall raising” ceremony in November at the site—
167 Whitney St. RIT President Bill Destler, his wife, Rebecca Johnson, and new homeowner April Randall were on hand for the event.

A sustainable design has been incorporated into the home, which will include efficient ventilation delivery systems to prevent heat loss; a material reuse system at the job site to maximize the use of materials; a heat recovery ventilator to exchange heat between the exiting air and the incoming air; an air-lock entry redesign system; switchable electric sockets; tankless hot water heater; new pipe insulation; use of natural lighting and a roof designed to provide adequate summer shade; solar panels; and a compost bin to reuse organic waste. Construction on the home is expected to be completed in February.

To help offset the cost of constructing the home, RIT student organizations held a series of fundraising events. 

A recent Brookings Institution study notes that poverty in Rochester increased from 26 percent in 2000 to 30 percent in 2007. As of 2007, child poverty was 44 percent, resulting in Rochester being ranked second in child poverty among the 100 largest U.S. cities. In the JOSANA neighborhood, located west of PAETEC Park and north of Interstate 490, 99 percent of properties were built before 1950 and 29 percent of children under age 6 tested at or above the highest levels of lead-paint poisoning. In addition, code violation calls to Rochester’s Housing Council are the highest per capita in this area.

“This is exactly the kind of project that RIT students, faculty and staff can really sink their teeth into,” says Kaity Werner, student co-leader of RIT’s Sustainable House project. “Every weekend, our students spend time building a home for someone in need. And now, with the help of Engineers for a Sustainable World, we are able to design and construct a home that incorporates technology, innovation and sustainable practices in an area that needs it the most. Seeing this project become a reality for us and for April makes it all worthwhile.”

For more information on RIT’s Sustainable House project, visit rithfhgoesgreen.org.