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”, for which three architecture 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 old 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 capital needed.
The ideas the students came up with for the project are practical since it utilizes various natural sources of such as sunlight and rainwater which could be further tapped into. 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 will be damaged since the solar panels spoil the outlook of the roofs. According to Sortfix (2016), an average septic tank installation cost around $5,170. The septic tanks should 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 should survey the cheapest yet reliable manufacturers which builds these systems.
Investors will create jobs for the community residing there if they invest in Detroit since it spans over 139 square miles. Cox, (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 these necessities need finances to thrive. Vacant houses also pose a problem. Hendrickx, one of the students from the project, said vacant houses will be set on fire by neighbours next door. Thus, people will be afraid to reside in Detroit due to the instability of the situation.
Ultimately, the most important factor in ensuring this project becomes successful is for financial help for the Detroit community. Investors could use this opportunity to invest in this project to create more jobs for the residents. This project could come a long way in being an inspiration for other countries to follow suit in increasing awareness 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. S. (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