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Sustainable Housing and Universal Design

by Louis on February 25, 2013

A recent Washington Post article describes a new passive design home. I’ve know the term passive design since my college days. It was one of the ‘low energy lifestyle’ ideas that lead me to the construction industry. Now this is called green building..and there is a Passive House Institute.

The article explains that increased costs for the passive design were modest for the price of this house. The heating and air conditioning cost reductions will absorb the additional costs in a reasonable timeframe…and since fuel costs will probably increase, the payback will be even sooner. Using less fuel is great for the planet and future generations but also for people on fixed incomes because the occupants are shielded from increasing fuel costs.  Similarly, Universal Design and accessible housing shields occupants from costs and misery of health changes.

The article goes on to tell how the innovative builder of this house is now looking to lower costs as he makes these techniques a more common feature of his work. The article also quotes a bigger builder who seems to say he will hold off on adopting these techniques until forced to do so by regulation. Not the way I think, but important to know that some do think this way

I was part of an accessible housing policy meeting at the Stanford Longevity Center recently. Henry Cisneros, Jane Hickie and Margaret Dyer-Chamberlain ran the meeting. They are co-editors of Independent for Life, published last year.Indepependent for Life

We broke the agenda into three issues…supply, standards and finance. We discussed carrot and stick approaches through zoning, permitting, and finance. The article made the importance and approach of that meeting even more significant to me. Regulation is probably the necessary step to satisfying our need for more accessible housing.

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