MSU architecture team leads weatherization efforts in Delta

December 4th, 2015 Comments Off on MSU architecture team leads weatherization efforts in Delta

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Edward Holmes and Ben Marshall, fourth-year architecture students and members of the Audit Squad, work in Greenwood. (photo via Emily McGlohn)

By Zack Plair | Mississippi State University

A project through Mississippi State University’s School of Architecture is helping make homes in the Mississippi Delta healthier and more energy efficient.

Using funds from the Greenwood Leflore Carroll Economic Development Foundation and Enterprise Community Partners, a team from Mississippi State studied air infiltration levels in 27 low-income homes in the Greenwood area during the summer. Starting Monday [Dec. 7], the team will begin the process of weatherizing homes from the study to enable better climate control and reduce homeowners’ utility bills.

Emily McGlohn, an assistant professor of architecture at MSU who is the faculty leader for the study, said the team looked at houses in three categories: 10 older homes built in the 1950s and 60s, six built in the 1980s and 90s, and 11 “Katrina cottages” placed in the Baptist Town area in Greenwood for low-income families within the last 10 years.

Preliminary study results, McGlohn said, showed the most air infiltration in the older homes. That poses a financial and health burden on the residents, she added.

“A home is supposed to keep you warm in the winter and cool in the summer,” she said. “But in a leaky home, it makes it harder and more costly to maintain those temperatures during those seasons.”

Now that the study is complete, McGlohn’s team – which includes mostly student workers – has secured the labor and materials for basic weatherization at the 27 homes. With the homeowners’ consent, McGlohn said the team could install door sweeps, weather stripping around windows and better insulate areas around air conditioning units in windows that tend to let air into the home. Even those small fixes, she said, could make a big impact.

Further, she is presenting the study results to stakeholders in the Delta in hopes of inspiring a more comprehensive weatherization program and ensuring that low-income homes built in the future are more energy efficient.

Greenwood architect Emily Roush-Elliot, an Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellow cohosted by the Greenwood Leflore Carroll Economic Development Foundation and MSU’s Carl Small Town Center, partnered with McGlohn’s team on the project. She said it has already accomplished much, considering its $12,000 budget, and has the potential to accomplish even more.

“Financially, it will help a substantial number of low-income families,” she said. “It’s easy to scale up, too. I hope this is a small first step to so much more.”

Read more about the work.

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