Building Innovation for Homeownership
Award Winners: Arizona

PROJECT NAME: Super-insulated Straw Bale Affordable Housing Project, Tucson, Arizona

SUBMITTER: David Eisenberg, Executive Director, Development Center for Appropriate Technology, Tucson, Arizona

PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The Super-insulated Straw Bale Affordable Housing Project, as its name suggests, uses innovative materials and techniques to build affordable homes in Tucson, Arizona. The first two of 18 single-family homes are currently under construction on a city-owned site in the "A" Mountain neighborhood by Habitat for Humanity Tucson and the Tucson Urban League. Average cost of the three-bedroom, 1,100 to 1,200 square foot homes will be approximately $45,000. Site and house plans were developed through a participatory process led by the City of Tucson and the Development Center for Appropriate Technology and included staff from various city departments, design and building professionals, neighbors, potential homeowners, and interested citizens.

The final designs are intended to couple straw bale construction with solar and other energy conserving technologies to create homes that are more energy efficient and affordable. The straw bale walls covered with thick stucco inside and out provide an insulation value of R- 55. Blown cellulose will insulate the ceiling to R-38. Southern windows allow the winter sun to heat the polished concrete floors and warm the homes. Overhangs prevent the sun from reaching the windows in the hot summer. Window placement for cross-ventilation, window shades and landscaping for shading provide further comfort. Water will be heated by solar batch water heaters. The minimum mechanical support required by the homes will lower energy and water costs considerably.

The Habitat homes will be available for families earning less than 50 percent of median income who complete homeownership and self-sufficiency training and provide the equivalent of $5,000 in sweat equity.

PROJECT PARTICIPANTS: City of Tucson - City Council Members Janet Marcus and Molly McKasson, Community Services Department Technical Services Division, Department of Transportation, and Planning Department; Development Center for Appropriate Technology (DCAT), David Eisenberg, Executive Director, Tucson (project consultant); Out On Bale, Tucson (project consultant); Habitat for Humanity Tucson (builder/developer); Tucson Urban League (builder/developer).


PROJECT: South Tucson Development, South Tucson, Arizona

SUBMITTER: Jeanne V. Shaw, Primavera Builders, Tucson, Arizona

PROJECT DESCRIPTION: This project to build six to nine houses on scattered sites throughout a distressed neighborhood in South Tucson, combines innovative building technology and a program to help the unemployed build job skills. The houses are being sold for $67,500, which is .49 of the median sales price for new housing construction in this region. The houses are constructed of structural insulated panels (SIPs) which are made by a local company. The panels arrive on-site precut and punched with window openings, ready to assemble, cutting erection time over conventional construction by two-thirds. The SIPs offer exceptional insulative qualities, with R-27 walls, and R-42 ceilings, thus contributing to significant energy savings. The units also have double-pane windows, 12-SEER furnaces with fresh air recovery systems, and a number of passive solar design features, resulting in a 50% savings in energy use. The local utility awarded the houses a �Good Sense� designation. The city and state supplied funds for buying distressed lots for development, and the Federal Home Loan Bank providing Affordable Housing and HOME funds. The nonprofit builder and developer, Primavera, also runs a builder education program that hires and trains low- income, homeless, unskilled, and at-risk youth to learn building skills and thus helps them to become more marketable for employment.

PROJECT PARTICIPANTS: Primavera Builders, Inc. (Jeanne V. Shaw, administrator); Arizona Bank (David Wright, CEO); Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco (Gary L. Curley, senior vice president); KC Panels (Ken Walston, president); Tucson Electric Power Co., (Bekki Booth, residential marketing coordinator); The Ochoa/Mission View Coalition (Leo Chavarria, president); City of South Tucson (Shirley Villegas, mayor); Pima County Community Services Department; State of Arizona Department of Commerce (Steve Capobres, Infrastructure and Housing Development).


Content Archived: January 20, 2009