The Rice Centennial House Project was a student run effort which led the Rice community in designing, funding and building a new Habitat for Humanity home. A diverse coalition of Rice University and Houston area community members worked together to raise $85,000, in order to: 1) Build a new low-cost home that demonstrates the compatibility of sustainability and affordability; 2) Honor and renew Rice’s commitment to volunteerism as it enters its second century; and 3) Give back to the community by offering the benefit of homeownership to a local family in need. The project began as a vision that the president of Rice Habitat for Humanity at the time had. Now, a year and a half later, the house is completely designed, the money is raised, the family was chosen, and construction of the house is almost complete.
The 1,300 square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bathrooms home is in the Fifth Ward. The house also boasts front and back porches and a garage. Her new place of residence, though, is anything but ordinary. The Rice Centennial House leverages passive cooling, day-lighting, solar power and other efficiency measures to advance a lifestyle that is healthy, sustainable and affordable. Designed by Rice School of Architecture students Yoni Pressman and Courtney, the Centennial House draws on Habitat’s best practices in order to keep the house build-able and the costs low. The design has been adopted as one of four models in Houston Habitat’s portfolio, and lessons learned will advance the organization’s “sustainability” mission. The house is incredibly aesthetically pleasing and will provide a warm place for a family to live. The students sure hope that the energy-efficient house will help the family save money on electricity bill in an effort to break the vicious cycle of poverty.
The Rice Centennial House was an innovative student-led project that received a lot of attention and support from the following parties: The Rice Design Alliance, Offices of the President, Provost, and Dean of Rice University, Rice Student Association, Rice Graduate Student Association, Rice University Faculty Senate, Rice University Housing & Dining, City of Houston, and Houston Habitat for Humanity. Pulling this project off was truly a joint effort that engaged the entire university and a great part of the Houston community. The project encouraged many different parts of the Rice community, such as the faculty, the staff, and the students to work together. The Centennial House also engaged the Rice community in something larger than the university itself; something “beyond the hedges”. United under one purpose, over 300 Rice students volunteered on building the house over a few weekends set up for that purpose. And while certainly all members of the Rice community will benefit from involvement in this unifying service project, ultimately the selected Habitat homeowner partner family will benefit most greatly from gaining the life-changing advantages of homeownership, due entirely to the efforts, support and service of the greater Rice community. It is noteworthy that as is central to Habitat for Humanity’s philosophy, the house will not be given away: the family will put in at least 100 hours of sweat equity for the first down payment in addition to paying off a 30 year no-interest mortgage on the house to pay for its building costs – a process that teaches fiscal responsibility and ensures that this house is not a handout.
The Rice Centennial House taught the Rice community important lessons about collaboration and philanthropy. The bright and driven students that served on the Centennial House Committee learned first-hand how to turn a dream of giving back in a meaningful way into a real project in just over a year. The student leaders gained a fundraising and advocacy skill-set that will help them lead similar projects in the future. The Rice community was surely reminded of the importance of serving the Houston community at an opportune time. With the centennial anniversary of the university fast approaching in October 2012, Rice University will serve as the emblem of pairing scholarship and volunteerism. Most importantly, the Rice Centennial House will provide a safe and welcoming home where Artissue will be able to properly raise her two children.
a. We thank them for their donation of a solar array for our green home. For more information about the Sun Club and how you can help worthy non-profits like Habitat for Humanity, please visit www.gmsunclub.com .
a. Doing good in local communities is a core value woven throughout CITGO and one that is uniquely demonstrated through its Fueling Good Program. Find out more at www.fuelinggood.com .
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Rice Habitat for Humanity is a non-profit student organization
which works towards Habitat's goal of eliminating inadequate
housing. Rice Habitat works to extinguish inadequate housing
in Houston by providing opportunities for the Rice community
to volunteer with other Habitat affiliars.