Oakleaf and Habitat for Humanity team
Oakleaf Waste Management is putting its considerable
industry know-how to work for Habitat for Humanity. Habitat is a
non-profit organization that uses monetary and material donations,
along with volunteer work, to refurbish or build homes for families
with lower incomes. The homes are sold to the families at cost,
financed by interest-free loans. Aside from the cost to buy the
house, families also invest “sweat-equity” by working
side by side with the volunteers to construct their homes.
Habitat recently began a 33-home project in Hartford,
Connecticut. Some of the homes scheduled to be built were intended
to be green homes, constructed with materials and processes that
reduce their ecological footprints and promote sustainability. Habitat’s
construction project manager Shea Hagy believes that these homes
will provide templates for more like them to be built in the future.
When Oakleaf, headquartered in East Hartford,
Connecticut, heard that Habitat was hard at work on a local project,
they decided that they wanted to give something back to the Hartford
community. So they used their industry connections to find an Oakleaf-certified
vendor, Waste Resources, to donate the cost of material pick-up
The Oakleaf team also worked with construction
supervisors to help the Habitat volunteers better manage their waste
stream. Rather than multiple roll-offs for separate types of waste,
Oakleaf decided to provide a single 20-yard container and pay for
the material to be sorted and recycled at a local facility. A separate
container exclusively for cardboard was also provided.
The homes themselves are superb examples of sustainable
building. A special framing process is utilized that consumes 30-40%
less lumber than traditional methods, and even the lumber itself
is different. It is an engineered lumber, harvested from faster
growing trees. The site of the homes used to be an asphalt parking
lot, and even that has not gone to waste. The asphalt will be recycled
and used in the foundations and driveways of the homes.
The homes also make use of environmentally sound
materials and appliances such as recycled carpet, dual-flush toilets,
low-flow shower heads and faucets, and solar panels; all of which
reduce the homes’ ecological footprint. It is estimated that
the green features built into these homes will save their residents
almost $1,000 annually on energy costs.
These special features are not without cost, however.
The additional cost for the green homes amounted to approximately
$10,000 each. According to Hagy, the increased cost mainly came
from the use of solar panels, which accounted for nearly $6,000
of the total.
Hagy went on to say that these costs could be
reduced in the future by tweaking several building techniques. He
was also quick to point out that the added cost would not significantly
restrict the number of people who would be eligible for Habitat
housing, and that many companies would be willing to sponsor these
homes, just as United Technologies and Nationwide sponsored this
Habitat is trying to continue the green construction
initiative across the East Coast by holding informational conferences
for interested Habitat affiliates. Oakleaf has plans to support
the initiative outside of the Hartford area, but details are still
being worked out.