In the article, "This Detroit House Is Being Turned Into A Living Model Of Cost-Saving Sustainable Design”, Peters (2016), introduced us to a project titled “Motown Movement”, whereby three students purchased a house and converted it into a sustainable cost-efficient living model 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 three students, stated 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 within 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 since it utilizes various sources of such as sunlight and rain. Both are natural sources which could be further tapped into and used. Sunlight can be converted into solar energy and rainwater could be collected. Thus, it is practical and easy to sustain. The septic tank and connection of the house to waste heat from nearby industry are also practical since the systems convert waste into productive materials.
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(CBS Detroit, 2013). The installation cost is definitely not cheap, but in the long run, it reduces the monthly electric bill. 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(Sortfix, 2016). The septic tanks have to be placed at suitable locations. Environmental impacts such as odour and gas emissions as well as groundwater pollution may occur if placed at unsuitable conditions (Wikipedia, 2016). Therefore, the students will really have to survey and place the septic tank at proper locations. If not, they would cause more damage than benefits to the environment.
Since Detroit spans over 139 square miles and being a large area, investors tend to be attracted to place their investments due to the vast land available. Cox,(Wdet, 2016) Detroit's chief city planner, mentions that necessity supplies such as water, electricity and police protection will be applicable to all neighbourhoods. However, all this necessities need finances to thrive. Vacant houses also pose a problem. Hendrickx, one of the students, said vacant houses will be set on fire by neighbours next door.
On the other hand, the Detroit residents’ mindsets are positive. They could accomplish a lot of things since they already have a positive and optimistic mindset. They can assist in the project by coaching and teaching their skills to other people due to their 'never give-up' attitude. Ultimately, the most important factor in ensuring this project becomes successful is for the government to help out the Detroit community in terms of financial issues. This project could come a long way in increasing awareness to the governments in other countries about sustainability and reducing environmental impacts on a global scale.
CBS Detroit. (2013). New Low-Cost Residential Solar Power Available.
Retrieved from http://detroit.cbslocal.com/2013/09/23/new-low-cost-residential-solar-power-available/
Klinefelter, Q. (2016). Must Detroit Shrink to Survive?
Retrieved from http://wdet.org/posts/2016/08/15/83707-must-detroit-shrink-to-survive/
Michael D. Shaw. (2006). 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/
Peters, A. (2016). 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
Sortfix. (2016). Low Cost Septic Tank Installation in Detroit, Michigan.
Wikipedia. (2016). Environmental Concerns of Septic Tanks.
Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Septic_tank