Building a Piece of the 'American Dream'

By: Marcus Washington
By: Marcus Washington

July 19, 2005

Architecture students both graduate and undergraduate from the University of Virginia are teaming up with the Piedmont Housing Alliance. They want families in Charlottesville to own a piece of the "American Dream." They are building energy-saving homes for the community.

As the wood is measured and then sawed, a home is being built for a family.

These modular homes are a little different than the traditional home because it take less time to build, but they're just as strong.

"We have structural panels that have been pre-fabricated that have been brought here to the site and were assembling them into the walls and roof of the house," said John Quale, Assistant Professor at the University of Virginia.

The project is called ecoMOD and is made up of UVa students who have majored in architecture. Their goal is take what they've learned in the classroom to build energy efficient homes.

Marilyn Monedinger is a recent graduate of the University of Virginia and as project manager of ecoMOD, she says this is exactly what she wants to do.

"I can think of no better thing to do with my education then give someone a home that works really well and that we can believe in and that they can believe in too," said Monedinger.

"It's a great opportunity for students who get to push their project to a certain degree in the studio and then actually get to come out and build it," explained Tom Holloman, Project Manager. "In the end to actually apply their knowledge from school and ultimately give back to the community."

They're also helping community members save money. Modular homes are built, helping insulate the home better. It's able to keeps it cool when it's hot and warm when it cold. This shows home owners more savings on electricity.

Quale says, "It's easily possible to get a payback on that because you'll be saving that much more money in your heating and cooling cost."

Once the first modular home is finished it will be brought to 7th St. and Elm St.

The first of the three homes should be in place by September. Those who are enrolled in Piedmont Housing Alliance's affordable housing programs will be some of the first to live in the energy efficient homes.

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