Cedar siding – upcycled telephone poles. Blue exterior – earthen plaster. Passive solar design. Active solar PV.
A Truth Window – highlights the natural wall materials.

By Nancy Jacobsen, RCAC Rural Development Specialist – Housing

I have the pleasure of working with Community Rebuilds Moab, Utah, a U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Mutual Self-Help Housing grantee that takes a unique building approach that focuses on low-carbon, energy-efficient homes. Community Rebuilds started out replacing pre-1976 trailer homes and is currently building 28 self-help homes on the Community Land Trust. Community Rebuilds strives to use as many natural carbon sequestering agricultural byproducts (such as straw and cork) as possible. They repurpose and salvage building materials and use natural materials such as mud, clay, and sand. The overall goal is to build the most affordable energy-efficient home that is healthy for the household members and the environment.

To compliment the self-help program, Community Rebuilds incorporates a building school, where students volunteer their labor and learn construction skills and sustainable and natural building techniques. While the families are required to complete their 65% labor contributions, the students assist in providing the extra labor that is needed to build natural and energy-efficient homes. Community Rebuilds sources natural, local materials, and diverts waste from the landfill by using up-cycled building materials.

Repurposed lighting fixtures, cabinets, and natural materials save money and allows more personalized design.

Community Rebuilds runs a Restore Program, accepting donations of gently used or new construction materials for resale and/or use by the program participants in their homes. This approach offers some personalized décor while keeping construction costs down and good materials out of landfills.

Long-term affordability is further enhanced by insulating the homes well and incorporating passive and active solar design. Most of Community Rebuilds’ homeowners pay less than $15 per month for all heating, cooling, and electricity costs. This equates to $150 -$250 per month savings, based on location.

For more information:
Visit the Community Rebuilds website Email info@communityrebuilds.org


Also in this issue of Self-Help Builder: