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Recycling to build a sustainable home

Recycling just got environmentally friendlier.

Jeff Owens, a College of Engineering research assistant and physics graduate student, is coordinating an on–campus aluminum can drive to raise money to build an affordable home for a needy local family. While Owens plans to build the home under the auspices of the Christian housing ministry called Habitat for Humanity, he aims to incorporate renewable resources and energy–efficient designs into its construction.

“I think it’s a good thing to make the connection between environmentally friendly construction techniques and affordable housing,” Owens said. “I’d like to show it’s possible.”

At the least, Owens has laid a foundation. He placed four collection boxes in two engineering buildings early this month—Lafferre Hall and Engineering Building West—and has gathered 16 pounds of crushed aluminum cans already.

Each pound of empty cans will bring in between 50 and 60 cents from a local recycler, Owens said.

Moreover, those cans may help Owens win a home–building grant from The Aluminum Association, which co–sponsors a “Cans for Habitat” program to help raise money for Habitat for Humanity. The Boone County branch of Habitat for Humanity, which organizes volunteers to build homes for low–income families, has built 70 homes since its inception in 1987, said Bill View, executive director of the Show–Me Central Habitat for Humanity Organization based in Columbia.

Building an affordable home generally takes between $55,000 and $60,000, including the price of the lot, View said. Drives like the one Owens has organized play an important part in Habitat for Humanity’s efforts, he said.

“It does raise awareness as much as anything, but it does support us too,” View said.

Owens hopes to combine his support for home ownership with his dedication to environmentally sustainable practices. The home Owens envisions would feature sustainable materials such as bamboo or cork rather than wood for flooring as well as designs geared toward energy efficiency.

“Energy efficiency only makes the housing more affordable,” Owens said.

Contact Jeff Owens for more information about the drive

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