By Gabriella Burman
Lovers of architecture in the Motor City will soon have a new edifice to admire. A team of emerging young professionals in the area of sustainable design will move an entirely solar-powered home from the City of Troy to the Warm Training Center on the grounds of Focus Hope, in downtown Detroit, at the end of June.
“The City of Troy is very gratified to know that the solar house will be utilized as a hands-on training resource to educate the next generation of workers in the renewable energy field,” said Troy Mayor Dane Slater. “We are very excited to partner with the Warm Training Center.”
The 800 square-foot, contemporary house, known as “ALOeTERRA,” includes a deck and rooms designed for maximum utility. It is constructed of sustainable materials, uses no gas or grid tied electricity, and adheres to the standards of universal design. Designed and built by Lawrence Technological University (LTU) students for the Solar Decathlon 2007, an international student competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, the home’s name refers to the aloe vera plant’s healing powers. Additionally, the name relates to the notion that sustainable design and engineering can mitigate environmental damage caused by the depletion of natural resources.
Since 1981, the Warm Training Center has had a mission to develop resource-efficient, affordable, healthy homes and communities through education, training, and technical assistance. Bob Chapman, the center’s executive director, looks forward to using the ALOeTERRA solar home to teach metro Detroiters about energy efficiency. “I can’t wait to have it set up,” he said. “It’s an important addition to our facility. We intend to use it 12 months a year for resident and consumer education, and as a tool for green consulting for businesses and municipalities.”
Harold Remlinger, a partner at Team-4-Community, LC3, whose primary objective is to achieve a socially responsible mission, was a primary consultant in the development of the ALOeTERRA. He is leading a team of volunteers from LTU architectural engineering students in the disassembly and reassembly of the house.
“The students’ physical involvement with the home’s dismantling and reassembly will tie together years of course work with professional practice,” said Remlinger.
Furthermore, “the project will strengthen their understanding of architecture and engineering, and the complexity of decisions that are necessary as they move forward with their research and designs for the next Decathalon competition, in 2015,” he added.
Team-4-Community was formed in 2012 by professionals with backgrounds in architecture, interior design, landscape architecture and urban design. Partner Shari Stein says spearheading the ALOeTERRA move falls right in line with the firm’s mission.
“Not only does this project provide emerging professionals with the opportunity to work on real world projects, taking theory to practice, it also improves the quality of life in Detroit,” she said. A portion of the profits will be donated to LTU to fund the Solar Decathlon 2015 project, and, or, the Architecture/Engineering degree program.
Once the move is complete, Chapman anticipates the house will open to the public after Labor Day for tours, education, and workshops on renewable materials.
Gabriella Burman is a journalist based in Detroit, and is also communications director at Big Tent Jobs, LLC (www.bigtentjobs.com).