Former Michigan Tech President’s Residence is New Sustainability Demonstration Home

March 24, 2017

MTUThe former Michigan Tech University President’s residence is about to be transformed. Students with the Michigan Tech Alternative Energy Enterprise team are remodeling the entire house and turning it into a net-zero sustainable demonstration home. They’re also looking for student tenants to assist them with the undertaking.

Custom-built homes can take anywhere from 10 to 16 months to complete, but this project currently has no end date. Students who volunteer to live in the 5,000-square-foot, five-bedroom, six-bathroom, three-floor home will participate in transforming the home, as well as pay rent to support the renovations that need to be completed.

The original structure was built in 1953 and designed by architect Warren Monberg. It was donated to the University in 1992 and has served as the residence of two Michigan Tech presidents since that time: Dale Stein and Curt Tompkins.

Students used 3D thermal imaging to track heat escaping throughout the house. In addition, they ran the home through different scenarios regarding electricity and heat to assess the current energy footprint and to map out future improvements that need to be made.

The electricity, in particular, is important to this project, as the students want to help solve issues currently plaguing residents in the Upper Peninsula. It’s an area where aging homes, aging population, low median household income, high unemployment, and the highest electric rates in Michigan ($0.25 per kilowatt hour) are actively harming its citizens.

The home will be fitted with several instruments to help monitor humidity, energy usage, and efficiency. Nearly 69% of steel in North America is recycled annually, and students plan to use recycled materials in addition to some new ones to transform the residence into a net-zero property.

Open houses will be held on a regular basis as part of the ongoing project in order to keep the public informed.

In addition to planning the project, students and faculty are currently raising money in order to get the initial funding they need. Applications for tenants are also currently being accepted for review. Tenants don’t have to be a part of the Michigan Tech Alternative Energy Enterprise team, but they do need to be willing to help with renovations and other improvements in the home.

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