Affordable High Performance Design in Western Alabama | Full Event Archive

Affordable High Performance Design in Western Alabama | Full Event Archive

It’s common to assume that high-performance building and affordability are a tricky scale to balance. But Auburn University’s Rural Studio has spent the last three decades working with architecture students to design and construct homes and community projects in West Alabama built to the highest levels of durability and efficiency while maintaining affordability. On October 19 Emily McGlohn and Betsey Ferrell Garcia of Rural Studio will join the Construction Tech crew to talk through the studio’s process of client-specific design, increasing performance, and prototyping for increased impact across the Southeast.

Emily is an associate professor at the Auburn University School of Architecture. During the last three years, Emily and her students have built three homes for local community members, and they will begin another one soon. Betsey, assistant research professor at Auburn University, has experience in high-performance arts, higher education, and K-12 facilities that inform her work envisioning and designing efficient, resilient, and equitable housing for communities that need it most. As a research professor, Garcia leverages Rural Studio’s long history of collaborating with West Alabama to address housing needs throughout the Southeast and beyond.

This presentation is filled with tangible lessons learned (they even wrote a book on it) about performance-driven affordable housing in Western Alabama. Join us to hear from Emily and Betsey about the design process, research initiatives, and impact coming out of Rural Studio’s impact building client-specific Passive House over the last three years.

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1 Comment

  1. Tiffany on December 6, 2022 at 12:33 am

    Wow! I’ve spent so much time researching eco smart home builds, and through that, recently discovered the passive house philosophy. Once learning about it, would be very hard to consider building any other way. Yet, every builder I’ve found is either only building in the North East, California or Colorado. I remembered an article I read many years ago about some really interesting things going on at Auburn University. It was a partnership with Habitat for Humanity, if I remember correctly. I thought it was so very cool, and neccessary, for other people. I was settled into a nice neighborhood with an excellent job, at the time. Yet, have so much empathy for those without that basic sense of home. And, security. Fast forward probably 10 years later, and cancer struck. It’s been incredibly scary, as anyone can imagine, but what I hadn’t known, prior, is that cancer is expensive! And, life doesn’t necessarily go back to normal once you beat it. So, being a problem solver, I set out to find a little plot of land, intending to build a much smaller home than I have, using the equity I’d built up, striving for a low to no mortgage existence. In other words, the tiny house movement philosophy, yet on solid ground, and small-ish rather than tiny. Seemed a great plan. Then covid. Then building supply issues and labor issues and inflation. The gentrification of hourly wage workers that had been happening for years, in bigger cities, that I’d been lamenting about, just unable to fathom what life would be like without a sense of safety that a home provides. I had cried tears over the situation, not even knowing anyone personally affected, just knowing there were strangers out there, frightened. I still own my larger home, but hanging onto it by a thread, since cancer. I still need to sell, and down-size. But, gentrification has now hit both middle and upper middle class America. We’ve been priced out. I’m still more fortunate than most. At least I have a home. It’s strangely ironic that my problem is I have a home that’s too large for me. Yet, due to the aforementioned issues, I’m stuck in it. I literally have too much house, while others have not enough or none, but I can’t do anything about it. Not only no passive builders in my area. No affordable builders in my area. Even the shoddy, terribly-built houses which will only increase the safe housing problem, over time, even those have priced me out. And, I have a pretty nice home to sell! The realization that I’m in a better situation than so many, yet still screwed (sorry) is such a mind blowing concept! I’m just thankful to finally learn that someone in the SouthEast is attempting to do something to help the situation. Thank you!! I will definitely subscribe, to learn more, and also to help spread the word as much as I can to the growing problem of safe, affordable housing, and what you’re doing to help improve things. Thanks again.. And, best of success. 🙂 Passive housing is the way to go!

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