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Green Giving

Published on: December 2nd, 2007

Candi Ayers lives in a 900 square-foot-trailer in Boulder. She shares it with her three kids, 10-year-old triplets, to be exact. It’s a little crowded, and that’s not to mention the roof leaks and the plumbing could go at any minute.

“We’re constantly tripping over one another,” says Ayers, a single mother who doesn’t have time to work because of her parenting duties.

That should all change by the end of the summer, as construction has just begun on her two-story, North Boulder townhome. The stay-at-home mom is able to afford it through the Flatirons Habitat for Humanity home ownership program. “I keep pinching myself,” the 40-year-old Boulder native says. “We drove by (the construction site), we saw that some walls had gone up—we were squealing.”

Generally, you could chalk this story up as your typical Habitat tale. Family in need of steady housing qualifies for the program, Habitat builds the home (with the help of the soon-to-be homeowner), and everyone lives happily ever after.

But this North Boulder project that will see nine units built for low-income families is being built by green standards, meaning homes will expend less energy, saving resources and a few bucks for the families moving in.

It’s the first environmentally-friendly project, dubbed Harmony Haven, that the Flatirons Habitat has worked on. It is the start of its new, green construction standards that puts it in elite company. Out of the 1,700 some-odd Habitat branches nationwide, only Flatirons and a New York City outfit have made green building a permanent commitment.

“We’re so enviro friendly in this community, it’s just the right thing to do,” says Jan Hawley, Flatirons Habitat development director.

The Harmony Haven homes will feature Energy Star-rated appliances, dual flush toilets, compact florescent light bulbs, tankless water heaters, Xeriscape landscaping and oodles of extra insulation. Homeowners will save nearly $300 a year in utility costs, and the homes will produce 1.3 fewer tons of carbon dioxide and save 3,500 gallons of water annually. All of these upgrades, which only add about 2.5 percent to overall construction costs, give these homes a 91 Energy Star rating, above the state’s typical range of 79 to 83.

“It’s something that we really believe in,” says Bob Wettergren, Flatirons Habitat construction manager.

Flatirons Habitat is in negotiations for three more projects in East Boulder County. Wettergren expects those homes to be even greener—think solar power.

Ayers would’ve been happy just getting a “regular” home but certainly appreciates the upgrades. The cheaper energy bills are a plus, too. “We might actually be warm and comfortable for a winter,” she says.

“It will be nice.”

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