Little Rock, Arkansas
Habitat for Humanity of Central Arkansas is an Interfaith Power & Light Certified Cool Congregation at the 30% and above level for building and renovating energy-efficient homes for low-wealth families.
Habitat for Humanity is a global nonprofit Christian housing organization that helps families build and improve places to call home.
Read their story in the words of Kelley Sims, the Programs and Operations Manager of Habitat for Humanity of Central Arkansas,
“Although Habitat for Humanity is not a congregation, multiple congregations and people in the pews help build our homes through mission teams. They also donate to our organization. The founders decades ago are active members of a Presbyterian congregation concerned about environmental justice. Faith-based principles guide our work.
The Board and staff (28 total) worked with dozens of mission team volunteers from multiple congregations and the community to build Energy Star rated houses for low-income (primarily minority) residents in low-wealth neighborhoods. Apostles Build is a program provided by multiple United Methodist congregations to support Habitat.
As stated on the first page of our website, “Our vision is a world where everyone has a decent place to live.” Also on the first page of our website is our belief that “We build strength, stability, and self-reliance through shelter.”
Helping low-wealth residents achieve a better standard of living is one way to “love our neighbors.” Individuals and mission teams from churches of all denominations gather to support Habitat through hands-on construction or support efforts. Habitat serves low-wealth residents. We look for ways to help our neighbors climb the ladder of sustainability.
Energy efficiency is part of household sustainability that allows for a greater portion of income to be available for food, medications, gas, and other basics.
We hope that others in the community will realize the value of Energy Star ratings when building or improving homes.
Over the past 33 years, Habitat for Humanity of Central Arkansas has built or improved 233 homes, and construction continues. Starting in 2011, Habitat for Humanity of Central Arkansas committed to providing energy-efficient homes for low-wealth residents. Since then, we have built or improved approximately 75 homes to meet Energy Star 2 standards. Starting in 2023, newer homes will be built to Energy Star 3 standards. Standards will include EPA-recognized HVAC Quality training, installation, and oversight. Standards also will include efficiency measures for insulation levels, insulation installation quality, window performance, and duct leakage prevention. Habitat for Humanity of Central Arkansas (in zone 3) will meet Energy Star 3 SEER ratings for cooling equipment, radiant barrier requirements, insulation levels, window U-values, door U-values, and water heater efficiency levels. All new homes will include programmable thermostats, Energy Star appliances, heat pumps where appropriate, and Energy Star light bulbs in all fixtures.
Eight new homes in the Baring Cross area of North Little Rock are planned for 2023.
An example new home built in 2022 is located at 1609 Marion St. in North Little Rock, built to Energy Star v3/3.1 standards that meet mandatory requirements for duct leakage, envelope insulation, slab insulation, windows at 2009IECC, R-6 duct insulation, and mechanical ventilation. Emission reductions are estimated at 2.1 tons of carbon dioxide per year, 9.7 pounds of sulfur dioxide per year, and 4.8 pounds of nitrogen exode per year. The home exceeds the minimum requirements for the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code. We estimate a 36% reduction in emissions – avoided emissions through energy efficiency for each new home.
Because we are estimating emissions reductions for new homes, we don’t have a cost for improvements that are part of new construction. We also do not have a baseline cost for electricity consumption because we are dealing with new construction. We estimated a baseline electrical consumption on expectations that new Energy Star rated homes will reduce electrical consumption by 36%. We used our HERS energy performance report for calculations. The last certificate we received stated the home’s efficiency performed “36% better.”
Habitat for Humanity homes that meet and exceed Energy Star standards serve as an example for the community and can inspire others to make energy efficiency improvements to lower energy consumption, lower utility bills, and reduce carbon footprints. Additionally, the homeowners will realize utility bill savings, share their experiences with others, continue to practice conservation, spread the word, and magnify the message of energy efficiency impacts.
All who desire to be a part of this work are welcome, regardless of religious preference or background. Habitat for Humanity has a policy of building with people in need, regardless of race or religion. They welcome volunteers and supporters from all backgrounds.
For more information, see the Central Arkansas website here: https://www.habitatcentralar.org/
And the general website: https://www.habitat.org/