Energy & Climate

Housing Sewanee Inc. Incorporates Sustainable Practices into Latest Project

Tue, 18 Nov 2014 15:09:00 CST  — by: Emily Sherwood, C'18 - Office of Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability Student Worker

The Housing Sewanee program, based out of the University of the South, recently completed a home for a local family that aligns with the sustainability goals of the University.

Housing Sewanee was founded in 1993 and is assisted by the Outreach Office. It operates much like Habitat for Humanity in that each year a group of volunteers gets together to build a house for a local family in need. It serves as a wonderful outlet for Sewanee students and faculty looking to give back to the community.

The newest home was built for a life-long resident of the Mountain who is currently raising her grandchildren. This project is particularly exciting because it utilized sustainable materials and building techniques in its construction. The lumber was harvest and milled locally in order to reduce the carbon footprint associated with transportation. Also, recycled materials from the construction of the Sewanee Inn, such as windows and shower units, were used as an alternative to buying new ones. High grade insulation and insulation installation techniques were used in order to trap both heat and cold air into the house depending on the season. Labor cost was also minimized as a result of three to four hundred volunteers choosing to come out and participate in the program.

Housing Sewanee will be having an open house for this project on December 6, 2014 from 9 am to 3 pm with a dedication taking place at 11am. Volunteers and organizers are excited to unveil the start of a new era of Housing Sewanee that parallels the University’s efforts toward increased sustainability.


More on Housing Sewanee Inc. (HSI)
Modeled after Habitat for Humanity, Housing Sewanee, Inc. was organized in 1993 for the purpose of forming a partnership between those who need homes on the Domain yet cannot afford a down payment or a high monthly mortgage and volunteers who want to work with those people to insure the dream of home ownership.

How it Works: Home owners are selected by a Family Selection Committee.  Housing needs and community standing are criteria considered during the selection process. Once a future home owner is selected, Housing Sewanee, Inc. raises the money needed to purchase construction materials. Once construction begins, the future owner of the house has an obligation to work no fewer than 500 hours of "sweat equity" labor on the project, while volunteers supply a majority of the remaining labor. Following the completion of the construction project, the owner then has 30 years to repay Housing Sewanee, Inc. the funds required to construct their new home without added interest, affording the homeowner manageable monthly payments. Any additional taxes, municipal fees, and utility fees are the homeowners' responsibility.

Volunteer participations: Over 400 volunteers worked with the homeowners on the first HSI home and this trend has continued. The majority of our volunteers are made up of students and visiting work groups during the summer. No experience or special skills are necessary, and all are welcome to volunteer. The only requirement is a willingness to give a little time to help those in need realize the dream of living in and owning a decent home.

Visiting Work Groups: The University Outreach Office offers opportunities for groups to serve in Sewanee and partner with HSI during the summer. In participating with HSI construction efforts, groups participate in an experiential learning opportunity while also serving others. Groups of any size are welcome and those that might volunteer include: fraternities and sororities, dormitories, varsity sports teams, staff and faculty groups, local church groups, summer youth groups, and more.

The Office of Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability

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