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Habitat for Humanity teams up with Leadership Fort Wayne on sustainable house

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Friday, April 26, 2013 - 7:21 am

Standing in the master bathroom at 5510 Buell Drive, the Rodriguez family looks around. Bright terracotta tile and cool white paint brighten the room. A high ceiling with a cutout space over the doorway provides ventilation between the two rooms.

The family is just one of many to get their own home with help from Habitat for Humanity. But unlike many, this home was a joint effort with Leadership Fort Wayne.

It all started two and a half years ago when architect Adam Weesner, of MSKTD and Associates, was participating in the Leadership Fort Wayne program and wanted to build a sustainable home as a project, with a twist. He wanted to do it for Habitat for Humanity so people would become aware of building more sustainable homes. Habitat thought it was a great idea, and so together they built the house.

Weesner said it is an educational tool to show the community there are other ways to build and that people should be responsible to the planet and environment. The home is built around passive principles, using the sun to heat it and the wind to cool it. Of course there is an auxiliary heating and cooling system.

The outside of the house is built with agricultural steel on the roof and walls and cedar siding. The walls are thick and there is lots of insulation encasing the structure. The idea is to keep the house cool in the summer, and retain the heat in in the winter. The flooring inside the house is polished cement that needs no cleaning. It absorbs sunlight, which provides heat for the home. The house has four bedrooms, two bathrooms and a loft space with cork flooring. It has a green roof over the entry and light-reflective paint within.

"Our utility bills should be 20 percent of what they are in a normal house," Laura Rodriguez said.

The Rodriguez family, after 20 years of marriage and four daughters, moved to Fort Wayne a few years ago. They needed an affordable home and went to Habitat for Humanity for assistance. It was a perfect fit. Friday, after almost three years, they are moving into their new home.

“We put in 422 hours of sweat equity to build our home,” Rodriguez said.

Thursday at the open house, the couple and their daughters, ages 19, 10, 8 and 6, toured the finished house. Laura Rodriguez proudly showed her husband the shelves in the master bathroom as her daughters suggested it would be an ideal place for her mother to keep her shoes.