A publication of Appalachian Voices


A publication of Appalachian Voices


Students Use Sustainable Methods to Build New Homes, Teach Others

Virginia Tech students explain sustainable building practices to high school students. Photo courtesy of Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech students explain sustainable building practices to high school students. Photo courtesy of Virginia Tech

By Cody Burchett

In southwest Virginia, high school students are designing and building several houses in cooperation with Habitat for Humanity of the New River Valley. The endeavor was initiated in the spring of 2014 by the Giles County Technology Center, which serves both Giles and Narrows high schools by assisting high school students with career and technical education.

Meanwhile, a sustainable biomaterials class at Virginia Tech University has developed teaching materials on green building practices for the highschoolers. Dr. Hindman, an associate professor at Virginia Tech, saw the technology center’s class as an opportunity for his students to apply their biomaterial construction knowledge in a hands-on setting, and to teach the younger students “how the concepts of sustainability and making efficient decisions are the future of the building construction industry.”

The principal of Giles County Technology Center, Forest Fowler, says that working with Habitat for Humanity gave them an educational “structure to build on.” According to Fowler, the technology center hopes to “begin a modular home involving the biomaterial aspects that the students learned from the Virginia Tech demonstrations” in their next project.

The duplex that was designed and constructed by these students and volunteers is expected to be finished and sold at cost to a family in Narrows, Va., by July 2015. The home is one of three that the service organization is currently constructing in the area.

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