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Energy-Efficient Rehab Will Be New Home for 201st Habitat for Humanity Family

It took 320 volunteers more than 1,891 hours to rehabilitate a small house on Kalamazoo’s Eastside but it will take just one family to make it a home. The transformation began on Sunday, January 29, when a local family of four dedicated its new Habitat for Humanity home.

Habitat purchased the original home, built from a kit in 1949, from the Kalamazoo County Land Bank. High school students enrolled in the Kalamazoo Regional Educational Service Agency’s Education for Employment (EFE) Construction Trades program renovated this house during the 2015-2016 school year under the direction of Habitat staff and EFE instructors. The building site was a hands-on classroom for 27 high school juniors and seniors. Each year, through the construction or full remodel of a Habitat for Humanity house, EFE students learn valuable aspects of the construction trade -- from site preparation and layout to carpentry, electrical, masonry, plumbing, heating, drywall, painting and other skills. This is the second rehab project KRESA students have completed with Habitat on Elder and a third is underway this year.

Construction Trades is just one of 34 different EFE programs offered through KRESA. Students from all public school districts in Kalamazoo County are eligible to participate in EFE programs. Home schooled students as well as students attending non-public schools and charter academies are also eligible to enroll in an EFE program. Approximately 3,700 students are enrolled in an EFE course in Kalamazoo County.

Additional Habitat for Humanity volunteers also contributed their time and talent to the project. Volunteers groups included Habitat’s regular Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday crews, and groups from the WMU Medical School, Kalamazoo Growlers, First Presbyterian Church of Kalamazoo, FOCUS Kalamazoo, Greenleaf Hospitality, Stryker, and Phi Gamma Delta.

The newly rehabilitated home is approximately 950 square feet and includes three bedrooms and one bath. It is a rare Energy Star® rehab. The home is so energy efficient that it doesn't even have a traditional furnace. By using the latest in energy saving materials and methods, such as spray foam insulation, thicker framed walls, and air-sealing, the home requires less than half of the heat that would be provided by the smallest gas furnace on the market today.

Instead, the home is heated and cooled by two "mini-split" heat pump units. These innovative units, as well as other energy-sipping features like a hybrid water heater, Energy Star® appliances, and compact fluorescent light bulbs, should help make the home very affordable to operate. Indoor air quality is enhanced by a heat recovery ventilator. The home will be EPA Indoor airPLUS certified.

Other special features include handcrafted cabinets made by volunteers through the Prison Build Program, a partnership between the Michigan State Department of Corrections and Habitat for Humanity of Michigan. Dow Chemical donated foam board insulation, Valspar donated paint, and Whirlpool donated a range and refrigerator. Schneider Electric donated the breakers and service panel and Hunter Douglas donated mini-blinds for the bedrooms.

The house will be purchased by a qualified Habitat home buyer who has contributed more than 400 volunteer “sweat equity” hours to help build this home and the homes of fellow Kalamazoo Valley Habitat for Humanity homeowners. Habitat for Humanity makes no profit on the sales of its homes and provides a very affordable mortgage. The future homeowner also completed more than 30 hours of MSHDA-approved financial literacy and personal financial management classes at Kalamazoo Neighborhood Housing Services and more than 27 hours of homeowner maintenance training provided by Community Homeworks in partnership with Habitat for Humanity.

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