In the article, “This Detroit House Is Being Turned Into A Living Model Of Cost-Saving Sustainable Design”, Peters (2016), 3 architecture students through their project, “Motown Movement” purchased a house in Detroit. Their aim was to achieve sustainability through cost-efficient approach by transforming run-down houses into affordable and sustainable buildings. In their house, the lower level will be a “training centre” while the upper level houses a family in need. In-house systems includes solar panels, a “greywater system” and a “septic tank” as sources of renewable energy. Lukkes, one of the 3 students, hoped that through collaboration with their university, they can ensure that their project can become universal and reach other countries. In my opinion, the students have a practical idea in implementing these changes to the Detroit community, yet these changes may be too ambitious due to the social impact and capital needed.
The ideas the students came up with for the project are practical. This project is practical since it utilizes solar energy and collects rain for multiple functions. Sunlight and rain are natural sources which could be further tapped into and used. Collecting rainwater is still practical and easy to sustain. The septic tank converts waste into bio-gas and fertilizers. They also plan to connect the house to waste heat from nearby industry.
Although the implementation of the solar panels may seem practical, the cost for each panel does not come cheap. The initial capital needed for the solar panels would cost an enormous amount. For example, a 5-kilowatt rooftop solar installation from “Srinergy”, a program formed by the partnership between MI Solar Works and Novi Solar, costs $14,800. The installation cost is definitely not cheap, but in the long run, it reduces the monthly electric bill by $75. It has a life span of 25 to 30 years. However, the beauty of the roofs are affected since the solar panels spoil the outlook of the roofs. An average septic tank installation cost around $5,170. The septic tanks have to be place at suitable locations. Environmental impacts such as odor and gas emissions as well as groundwater pollution may occur if placed at unsuitable conditions. Therefore, the students will really have to research and place the septic tank at proper locations. If not, they would cause more damage than benefits to the environment.
Although this project aims to benefit the community in Detroit, it might pose a few social problems. For example, once the house is already built and given to the needy, those who did not get the house may want to take it away for self-interest purposes. Due to the high crime rate and poverty in Detroit, I would suggest more police presence around the area to make the area safer.
On the other hand, the Detroit residents’ mindsets are positive. They could accomplish a lot of things by having a positive and optimistic mind. With the never give up attitude and being handy in their skills, they can assist in the project by coaching and teaching other people.
Ultimately, the most important factor in ensuring this project becomes successful is to help out in terms of financial issues. This project could come a long way in increasing awareness to other countries about sustainability and reducing environmental impacts.
1. Peters, A. (2016, July 7). This Detroit House Is Being Turned Into A Living Model Of Cost-Saving Sustainable Design. World Changing Ideas. Retrieved from https://www.fastcoexist.com/3061563/world-changing-ideas/this-detroit-house-is-being-turned-into-a-living-model-of-cost-saving-s
2. New Low-Cost Residential Solar Power Available (2013, 23 September).
Retrieved from http://detroit.cbslocal.com/2013/09/23/new-low-cost-residential-solar-power-available/
3. Low Cost Septic Tank Installation in Detroit, MI (2016).
4. Environmental Concerns of Septic Tanks (2016, 07 September).
Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Septic_tank
5. Michael D. Shaw. (2006, 18 September) What A Waste: Septic Tanks And Their Environmental Problems.
Retrieved from https://www.gasdetection.com/interscan-in-the-news/magazine-articles/waste-septic-tanks-environmental-problems/