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UMass Students Create Affordable, Low-Carbon Home

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Education + Training

UMass Students Create Affordable, Low-Carbon Home

Students at the University of Massachusetts Amherst's DesignBuild program help address the housing affordability crisis by designing and constructing an energy-efficient modular home

October 5, 2023
Contractor hammering nail into wood-framed house
Image: anatoliy_gleb

UMass DesignBuild, a collaboration between UMass Amherst's Building and Construction Technology Program, Department of Architecture, and the Five College Architectural Studies program, has designed and built "Paper House," a 500-square-foot, modular, net-zero, low-carbon house. The project aims to provide students with hands-on experience to bridge the gap between design and construction, the University of Massachusetts Amherst reports, and has received donated materials and funds from local contractors and suppliers.

Once completed, the home will be transported to Holyoke, Mass., where nonprofit OneHolyoke CDC, which is working to supply housing for low- and moderate-income residents in the city of Holyoke, will add it to their inventory.

“We all had different things to teach each other,” says [Ben] Leinfelder, “everyone, from the future architects to those who will go into construction had skin in the game and expertise to share.”

The Paper House is getting its final, finishing touches, and then, in late October or early November, a crane will put it on a flatbed trailer for transportation to its final destination in Holyoke.

“It’s great for students in DesignBuild to see how their colleagues across the divide work,” says [Carl] Fiocchi, “but even more important is that they get to learn why we’re designing and building these high quality, affordable houses.”

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