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Lubbock, Texas

Rebuilding a Community with Strong, Energy Efficient Affordable Homes

The city of Lubbock has become a leader in building some of America's most energy efficient homes as part of their Community Development Program. Over the last several years, this West Texas city has worked diligently with the community, governmental agencies and building industry partners to build high quality, tornado resistant, energy efficient homes. By studying and reviewing fundamental floor designs, locations and types of HVAC equipment, using state-of-the-art materials and methodology for windows, siding and other aspects of the building envelope, the goal is to achieve homes that are guaranteed to be 50% to 75% more energy-efficient than wood-frame construction.

There are houses throughout existing Lubbock neighborhoods that cannot be rehabilitated. These houses are structurally unsound, utilize excessive energy, are not universally designed, and are full of lead based paint. Through this program, the homeowner is temporarily relocated and the sub-standard house is demolished. A new, highly-energy-efficient, universally designed, insulated concrete form (ICF) house is built on site. Some achievements of the program include the elimination of slum and blight, the elimination of lead-based paint, long-term energy savings, pride of home ownership and increased quality of life. Thirty homes have been demolished and are being replaced with energy-efficient insulating concrete form homes. They have realized energy saving ranging from 30% to 50% per house compared with a newly constructed wood frame house.

Located in Lubbock, Texas Tech University is one of the world's most recognized institutions for wind research. Part of the reasons for the selection of ICFs in the Lubbock HUD Program came from the structural research conducted by Texas Tech. The university has conducted tests and recognized that an exterior concrete wall is one of the premier systems to ensure safety and shelter for homeowners during hurricane and tornado force winds. University researchers, led by Dr. Ernst Kiesling, Ph.D., have conducted a series of analytical and physical testing of numerous exterior wall systems for residential housing, subjecting them to projectiles driven by the severest of winds loads. Concrete wall systems were proven to withstand 100% of all known hurricane-force winds and over 99% of all known tornado-force winds. The city leaders of Lubbock, recognizing the benefits of having this type of homeowner protection from the harsher elements of nature, have now incorporated a variety of housing plans that offer exterior concrete walls as an option for their citizens.

In 1998, Brad Reed, Senior Building Inspector, City of Lubbock, and the city staff began working with building industry partners the Cement and Concrete Promotion Council of Texas, Portland Cement Association, and the Florida Solar Energy Center, to design and construct high efficiency houses for community homeowners. The Community Development Department implemented a new construction program, "Home Investment Partnership" - the HUD federal grant program, also known as Home Match - as a pilot to promote affordable housing. This program included partnerships with contractors, material suppliers, non-profit organizations and government agencies. Thirty local contractors and material suppliers donated labor and materials as the Home Match portion of the program, for a total of $29,491 of donations. The requirement of the Home Match is that the HUD, puts up a percentage of the costs and requires a match of funds, services, or materials from local entities. The house was used for training and to demonstrate ICF construction.

These forms provide a highly energy efficient house, thereby saving the new homeowner approximately $41.00 in monthly utility costs. These savings can be used for the other needs essential to the homeowner. As mentioned above, thirty ICF houses have been built to-date in the city's Energy Saving Reconstruction Program. It is anticipated that twenty more ICF houses will be built during the next twelve months.

Other cities can easily replicate this highly successful program. Mr. Reed is busy answering questions from across the nation regarding the city's efforts in building affordable housing with HUD matching funds in this innovative way.

The City of Lubbock takes a proactive stance on energy efficient, universally designed homes, and innovative construction techniques. These building techniques are the way of the future for affordable housing. As energy cost rise, and material cost escalate, new and innovative construction techniques will inevitably take over.

Content updated on 7/17/2006

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