Building Hope and Sustainability

by Antonio Pasolini on December 16, 2011

Nancy Welsh. Photo credit: Builders of Hope

Builders of Hope is an organization headquartered in Raleigh, NC, that rehabs doomed properties and transforms them into affordable, sustainable housing. It also works to make the new homes more energy efficient in order to reduce carbon emissions and keep electricity bills lower.

Founder Nancy Welsh recently launched a book called Builders of Hope, A Social Entrepreneur’s Solution for Rebuilding America, written by Wanda Urbanska, which tells the story of the organization she founded in 2007 and which is addressing problems related to the current housing system and construction-related landfill debris. It’s a story of sustainability and hope to those who need quality homes at a lower price.

“Over the last two years, we have rehabilitated 37 single family homes with SystemVision Certification of North Carolina. The total energy use of a Builders of Hope SystemVision home is 15 percent less than a conventional home. The total Heating and Cooling usage of these houses is also 30 percent less than a conventional home. In total, these homes will use a total of 65,701 fewer kilowatt-hours each year than houses with the same amount of square footage which were built using conventional construction methods”, she told Energy Refuge.

Nancy added that those numbers do not include the additional energy savings that result from recycling materials from the homes rather than building from scratch or the number of tons of debris that is diverted from landfills. “A recent study from North Carolina State University found that recycling a house using our “Extreme Green Rehabilitation” method generates a carbon dioxide equivalent (CDE) of 25.6 tons, compared to 44.9 tons CDE that is created when building a new house of the same size using traditional construction methods – a savings of 19.3 tons CDE per housing unit. We also estimate that, since 2007, our organization has saved more than 12 million pounds of construction-related debris from the landfill.”

Builders of Hope also has plans to incorporate solar energy into the design of their rehabbed homes. “We are currently working with a local solar design firm to discuss options for incorporating solar into our homes. One possibility is a basic package price for both PV and Solar Thermal that can be offered as an upgrade to any suitably oriented home, which a homeowner could roll into their mortgage. We are also exploring the option of leasing roof space on multi-family rental units as a way for us to help keep costs low for our tenants”, Nancy said.

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