AQUINAS STEPS UP AS FIRST COLLEGE IN WEST MICHIGAN TO SPONSOR ENTIRE HABITAT HOME
September 15, 2009 - Grand Rapids, Mich. (September 15, 2009) - Aquinas College has added another first to its list of achievements. This inclusive educational community made academic history in 2003 when it became the first institution in the United States to offer an undergraduate degree in sustainable business. The curriculum is affiliated with the Center for Sustainability (C4S) at Aquinas College, which is dedicated to the development and advancement of organizations and communities who promote economic viability, natural world kinship, and social responsibility.
Aquinas College will further advance its commitment to sustainability and social responsibility by partnering with Habitat for Humanity of Kent County to underwrite and complete a LEED for Homes® Certified “Total Gut Rehab” home in southwest Grand Rapids. Total gut rehab construction is a process of totally rebuilding the home while maintaining the original structural components. In the case of this home, the rehab will undergo the strict LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) for Homes® certification process. In 2007, Habitat Kent committed to building all of its homes to LEED for Homes® standards, and in 2008, they received a Gold Rating for their first Total Gut Rehab Habitat home. Habitat Kent has since built more single family LEED for Homes® Certified buildings than any other residential builder in the Midwest.
Greg McAleenan, vice president for Institutional Advancement, says the collaboration is an important one for the College.
"Aquinas College is thrilled to partner with Habitat for Humanity of Kent County on this project, since it embodies tenets of the Aquinas mission—leadership and service. By building with Habitat," McAleenan adds, "we are engaging our faculty, students, staff, and alumni in service to others. The project also is helping to democratize green building by bringing energy efficient practices to those who may be facing the decision ’heat, or food?”
The partnership officially kicked off on Earth Day in April with a blue jean collection drive, resulting in 731 lbs of blue jeans collected from Aquinas students and the surrounding community. The rehabbed home will contain insulation made out of recycled blue jeans. The product, UltraTouch Insulation, has been donated by Aquinas College Alumni Bob Joslin '69 and daughter, Tierra ’07, of L&D Adhesives, to be used in the home.
Aquinas College volunteers will be responsible for completing the Habitat home reconstruction project. Volunteers will work alongside Habitat homebuyer family, Matthew Riak and Achol Kuir. Matthew is a Lutheran minister who is a former “Lost Boy” of Sudan. He now ministers to a community of approximately 200 Sudanese. Habitat homebuyers invest 300-500 hours of sweat equity into building Habitat homes prior to assuming responsibility for their 25-year, zero-percent interest mortgages. Since its founding in 1983, Habitat for Humanity of Kent County has built 265 simple, decent affordable homes in Kent and Eastern Ottawa Counties.
Rehab construction will be completed in November. Prior to salvaging reusable materials for resale at Habitat’s two Kent County ReStores, Aquinas College will raise the remaining funds for the project and are already more than halfway to their goal.