Innovation in disaster preparedness

Habitat for Humanity International has received the FedEx Award for Innovations in Disaster Preparedness for its use of mulberry branches and timber framing to reduce earthquake damage to existing mud brick homes in Tajikistan. The Central Asian country experiences more than 5,000 tremors and earthquakes a year, and 95 percent of the rural population cannot afford rebar or concrete seismic belts. After an especially devastating earthquake in 2006, Habitat worked with Tajikistan’s Institute of Seismology to use widely-available mulberry branches to retrofit mud brick walls to withstand earthquakes.

Partnering for energy efficiency

Last fall, as part of a joint project with USAID, Habitat hosted expert roundtables on energy efficiency in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Armenia. The events gathered representatives of financial institutions, local governments and other nonprofit organizations to discuss financial models that would help low-income residents upgrade their apartment buildings to prevent energy losses. Bosnia Herzegovina and Armenia were chosen for pilot projects, with selected buildings undergoing energy audits, upgrades and monitoring to serve as case studies.

Habitat on the Hill 2014

Habitat’s eighth annual legislative conference will take place in Washington, D.C., in early February. Attendees will participate in sessions and workshops — and spend a day on Capitol Hill meeting with legislators — affordable housing resources, national service, energy efficiency, veterans’ housing and foreign aid reform. “With the launch of our new strategic plan and advocacy focus, Habitat is poised to broaden and deepen its influence on the systems and policies that advance access to affordable housing,” says Habitat CEO Jonathan Reckford.

Manatee County Habitat wins award from U.S. Department of Energy

Manatee County Habitat was recognized by the U.S. Department of Energy with a U.S. Housing Innovation Award for a sustainable home built to the very high standards of the department’s Challenge Home. The awards honor innovators leading the way in the creation of net-zero energy homes. The Florida affiliate plans to build two more Challenge Homes.

New England’s first solar-powered Habitat home built in Maine

Waterville Area Habitat homeowner Joni Sprague and her twin 3-year-old girls enjoyed a new home for the holidays, and one that has the distinction of being the first solar-powered Habitat house built in New England. It’s estimated that Sprague will save about $100 a month on her utility bills. The photovoltaic panels also helped out volunteers, quietly powering tools during construction of the three-bedroom home.