Led by professor David Hinson, a team of Auburn University architecture students recently finished building a custom-made home for Habitat for Humanity.
These architecture students, in conjunction with the McWhorter School of Building Science and Auburn's Rural Studio program, collaborated with the Auburn Opelika Habitat for Humanity affiliate to build a home for Auburn-Opelika resident Michelle Robinson.
The students also collaborated with a team of experts from the Passive House Institute, local homebuilders Jacquelyn Dixon and Alex Cary and the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety's FORTIFIED program.
Building Science students broke ground on this home in early February, and architecture students joined the project later that month.
Mark Grantham, executive director for the Auburn Opelika Habitat for Humanity, provided students with all the resources and materials they needed for construction, and he made himself available throughout the process.
Robinson's home is the first certified Passive House home in Alabama.
“Passive Homes are different because we use some non-traditional building techniques and extra materials to make the home super energy efficient,” said Katherine Mazade, architecture student.
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Hinson said that this house was designed to not only be energy efficient but to also withstand damage from severe storms. Because of its energy efficiency, Robinson is expected to pay much less annually to power her home.
This project was modeled after a previously built house called Buster’s Home, constructed by Auburn students in Hale County, Alabama.
Projects like these are offered to architecture students as part of their curriculum. Instead of meeting in Dudley Hall every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, the group of students working on the project would meet at the construction site.
“I saw this as a chance to really better someone else’s life as well as gain practical construction skills," said Fox Carlson, senior in architecture. "Even though Michelle got a new house, I felt pretty lucky to be a part of it.”
Mazade said that Robinson was highly involved in the construction of her home throughout the process.
“Ms. Michelle was out on site with us almost every day we were and worked as hard as anyone,” Mazade said.
This project offers students hands-on experience in order to give them an opportunity to learn about what their futures will look like in the architecture field.
“I think nonprofit design and construction work is incredibly important and an essential part of our education," Mazade said. "As students at Auburn, we are given privileges and opportunities that many people don't have, and it would be extremely selfish of us not to use those opportunities to help others.”
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