~i_Housing - Minaker
program coordinator Mark Bell stands before one of the many energy-efficient homes built by students in collaboration with the PerthWorks projects. There are currently nine homes built with one more to come

In the high efficiency home building field, Algonquin students and faculty are leading the way in a collaborative effort with the Perth community.

From simple beginnings the program has developed to offer students and the community interesting opportunities for growth. With a focus on conservation and team building Mark Bell, professor of Advanced Housing, strives to construct energy-efficient abodes he characterizes as “Slightly better homes.”

Over the last 10 years Mark Bell has been responsible for the implementation and development of the Advanced Housing program at Perth campus.

Coming into the program, first year students learn the basics through in-class theory and hands-on training. In the practical portion of the program students are asked to construct sheds which are later sold to the community.

This process builds the core skills necessary on a manageable scale before going forward into full scale home building, Bell explained.

“There’s an opportunity to work with a real world client on a project they want,” Bell said.” You’re not just chopping up material and throwing it in a bin.”

The main learning point of the first exercise however is the team building aspect the project brings.

The second year of the program has students working in the community with the Perth Works Projects where they help construct energy-efficient homes in the community. To date there have been nine homes constructed, number ten is expected to be finished at the end of this year.

The current home under construction is nicknamed “Arthur 55.” The modest home sitting on Arthur Street has been a marvel to many of the trades who have come to help with the project. “They’re all blown away right now by the fact that we’re heating this (home)with a 4800 Watt space heater,” Bell said.

The homes have been carefully designed to ensure minimal loss of energy through improved insulation, superior air barriers, strategic window placement and the use of a Heat Recovery Ventilator . The HRV allows cool incoming air to be tempered with the heated moist air being vented, thereby further reducing heat loss and costs.

Homeowner Peggy Land and her husband Murray Long have lived in the second home built by the students for six years now. They are enthusiastic about the program and how their home has performed over the years.

“I really think it’s great that Algonquin is recognizing it’s really important to build affordable homes so that younger families can afford them,” Land said.

She also noted that the many social benefits have been just as important as the efficiency of the home.

Through the hard work of students, assistance from the community and a dedication to innovation, this community endeavour will continue to offer exceptional value to prospective home buyers.