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UMass Dartmouth Engineering Department teams with Habitat for Humanity to build a solar house in Plymouth

Groundbreaking ceremony to be held on October 14

Students and faculty from UMass Dartmouth's College of Engineering are partnering with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Plymouth in the construction a solar-powered house. The house will be the first solar-powered Habitat For Humanity house built in Massachusetts.

A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for 10 a.m. on October 14 at the home site on Braley Road in Plymouth, rain or shine.

Nancy Morse, President of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Plymouth, said, "Everyone on the Board of Directors is very excited about UMass Dartmouth's participation in the building of the first Habitat solar home in Massachusetts. We feel honored that our affiliate has been chosen by the students and faculty, and hope that it is not only the start of a long-term relationship, but also the groundwork for many solar Habitat homes to be built in the future."

Professor Gerald Lemay of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department said, "This project provides an affordable home that will be affordable to live in. The design is based on the traditional New England salt box. We are using insulated concrete forms for the foundation and basement; structural insulated panels for the walls and roof; radiant floor heating; excellent windows and doors; and an energy recovery ventilator."

Lemay said the UMass Dartmouth team's work in the 2005 Solar Decathlon, an international design competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Housing, provided valuable experience and insights that are being incorporated into the Plymouth home. Habitat for Humanity will also utilize the same regional suppliers and builders who had helped with the Solar Decathlon project.

Following a competitive application and approval process, the family selected by Habitat for Humanity to live in the home takes an active part in its construction, contributing what HFH refers to as "sweat equity." The homeowners then make affordable, no-interest mortgage payments to the non-profit organization, which uses the funds to help finance the construction of more homes.

During the construction process, the homeowners work alongside crews of local volunteers, using funds and materials donated by members of the surrounding community.

Morse said, "Our Family Selection Committee is in the process of interviewing the families who have applied for the home. They will narrow down the choice to 2-3 families and then present them anonymously to the Board of Directors on October 12 for a vote. We expect that the family will be available for the Groundbreaking ceremony on October 14."

For more on Habitat for Humanity, visit

For more information on the UMass Dartmouth College of Engineering, visit


Author:  "John Hoey"
Date:  11-Oct-2006
Department:   College of Engineering

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