BASF has constructed a new Better Homes, Better Planet: Near Zero Energy home in Paterson, N.J., that not only utilizes energy efficient and sustainable building practices, but also incorporates elements of universal design — features that make a home functional for its inhabitants regardless of age, physical mobility or other individual concerns.
BASF developed the Better Homes, Better Planet home concept to demonstrate that its technologies have energy efficient, ecological benefits.
"We felt like this is a great way to really show people concrete ideas of how innovative chemistry can actually make high-performance buildings," says Jack Armstrong, business manager for BASF's North American operations.
But it was brought to the company's attention that St. Michael's Housing Authority, a philanthropic organization in Paterson, N.J., wanted to find housing for a teenage quadriplegic, Richard Sosa, and his family. The Paterson city council selected a lot for the home, and HUD provided a grant to BASF for the construction of its mechanical systems, according to Armstrong.
After using it as an educational tool for homeowners, builders, architects and government officials, the three-story, 2,900 sq. ft. home will be donated to St. Michael's, who will turn it over to the Sosa family.
"We needed to design things so that he could really get around," says Armstrong. "We can illustrate other ecologically sensitive and sustainable products even in the universal design world."
BASF tapped its customers as partners in the venture. Polysteel and Insulspan provided the Insulating Concrete Forms and Structural Insulated Panels respectively, providing a well insulated building envelope. Whirlpool provided a refrigerator, washer and dryer that are energy efficient and accessible for the wheelchair bound. Best Bath Systems provided shower systems with a neoprene "water dam" that eliminates the need for a curb to keep water from flowing onto the bathroom floor, making it easy to move a wheelchair in and out.
BASF worked with Patricia Gaylor, an interior designer with GRAD Architects in Newark, N.J., on the design, to make the home both functional and beautiful.
The Better Homes, Better Planet: Near Zero Energy House is one of a select number of homes chosen for the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) for Homes pilot program.
"The home is ...the highest Energy Star home they've ever analyzed as far as the design calculations," says Armstrong.