Home Building Mistakes Can Last A Lifetime

Today, a house can be constructed so that utility costs are less than a dollar a day and the house will still be standing in 2100 according to Barbara Bannon-Harwood, author of The Healing House.

The Sidney, Nebraska, native shared ideas about the basic principles of affordability, durability and sustainability for housing at an affordable housing conference in Kearney in October.

Energy Efficiency--The Difference

Harwood talked about two elderly couples who had similar fixed incomes and homes and were alike in many other ways. Yet, one couple was sick and uncomfortable while the other couple was well and happy.

She was convinced the difference was energy efficiency. Harwood's family helped make the one couple's home more energy efficient, comfortable and affordable, and that accounted for the difference in health and happiness.

Harwood said these experiences and other life-changing events moved her in the direction of home construction using sustainability and energy efficiency principles.

Award Winning Ideas

Harwood is a builder-developer of both custom and affordable housing in Carrollton, Texas. She has received national recognition for her work including the 1996 Building Innovation for Home Ownership Award, the 1996 and 1997 Energy Value in Housing Award, the Professional Builder Achievement Award for Public-Private Partnerships, the Best Low-Income Development Award and the Distinguished Appropriate Technology Award.

Sustainability Affects Affordable Housing

Other sustainable development and affordable housing advocates appearing at the conference included Cecil Stewart, Dean of the College of Architecture at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and
Michael Myers from the U.S. Department of Energy, Patrick Lana from the Center of Excellence for Sustainable Development in Denver, Catherine McGuire from the Joslyn Castle Institute for Sustainable Communities in Omaha and Mayor Bruce Snead, Manhattan, Kansas.

The Kearney conference was hosted by the Nebraska Affordable Housing Commission and coordinated by the Nebraska Department of Economic Development. The Nebraska Energy Office was one of numerous sponsors.

For more information on the state's annual housing conference, contact Julie Hendricks at the state's economic development department at 402-471-4169.

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