For years 810 Wheeler Street earned notoriety as a drug den, but a new legacy may resurrect the address as a symbol of environmental and social responsibility.
Yukon College, Habitat for Humanity and the Yukon Housing Corporation are working together to provide carpentry courses in Supergreen construction that will eventually allow students to build an energy-efficient home for low-income families on the site.
The three organizations signed a memorandum of understanding outlining the plan on Tuesday.
The project will offer affordable housing in two different ways, said college president Terry Weninger.
“Through Habitat for Humanity the house is provided to a needy family, but it is also estimated that these heating costs will be about 20 per cent of conventional home (heating costs),” said Weninger.
The course begins in May so that students can begin building the house later this year. Yukon College usually begins classes in September but the schedule change allows electrical and plumbing students to work within the triplex’s frame when the cold arrives.
There are usually around 12 students in a carpentry course, said Weninger.
“It’s going to give the students much more knowledge and much more consciousness of what is necessary in order to improve the types of houses that we build,” said carpentry instructor Don Gillies.
Supergreen is an energy efficiency standard for construction materials and practices developed by the Yukon Housing Corporation. While the Yukon government has pledged to build its buildings to Supergreen standards, few in the industry do it voluntarily.
The courses will look at increasing insulation values, sealing the air and vapour envelope and implementing efficient ventilation and heating systems.
“Too often heating systems are installed in buildings that far exceed the needs of the building itself, which means you end up with an inefficient heating system,” said Gillies.
Construction materials will be judged on the environmental impact of their manufacturing, and even solar orientation will be considered.
But the idea is to get students to change their philosophy about building — not just the material they work with.
“What we’re going to do with the program is that the overall focus will be looking at how we are building nowadays and how we can increase the efficiency of our building,” said Gillies.
The college hopes to make the construction industry more conscientious about its ecological impact, he said.
“We’re hoping that, by having the students out there (in the workforce), it will be easier for the consumer to have a Supergreen house constructed,” said Weninger.
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