Housing

Katrina Cottages reused as permanent residential and commercial structures

Article: Katrina Cottages reused as permanent residential and commercial structures

Ever thought about picking up a FEMA trailer for a permanent home? Doubtful… these temporary housing units that became famous after Hurricane Katrina not only weren’t designed for permanent residence, but have all the character of, well, government housing.

But those trailers weren’t the only housing option available to storm and flood victims: the Katrina Cottage was developed in Jackson, Mississippi weeks after the storm as both a “dignified alternative” to those white trailers. The cottage had all of the emergency preparedness features of the trailers — modular and easily transportable — but also were designed for transition to permanent structures (that could be built out if an owner desired).

The $300 House: safe green housing for the world's poor

Article: The $300 House: safe green housing for the world's poor


The world’s poorest citizens often have to make do with shelter… and that often involves scrap or natural materials found near shantytowns. In one sense, this is green building at its simplest; on the other, such structures provide minimal protection, while often creating risks for fire, suffocation from cooking smoke, and other hazards.

Last Summer, Dartmouth business professor Vijay Govindarajan and marketing consultant Christian Sarkar tossed out an idea on the Harvard Business Review blog: the $300 house. The concept: create a safe, sustainably-built structure that provided shelter and even some utilities (solar power and water filtering) at a price that the world’s poorest people might be able to afford. To keep costs and environmental impact down, the house would use prefabricated materials. People would buy the houses on a microfinance model.

Habitat houses now come with organic gardens

Article: Habitat houses now come with organic gardens

From reselling used building materials through its Restores to contributing to the development of Biotown USA, Habitat for Humanity has a definite green streak… if you have doubts, just check out the international organization’s efforts on sustainable building and energy efficiency. The Inland Valley chapter in Southern California has taken this green focus to heart: not only has it incorporated solar power into many of its projects through a partnership with GRID Alternatives (like many California chapters), but it also now includes an organic garden with every “new” home.