TD&CS in Toronto at Greenbuild International Convention

White Earth 4 - Timber House - Type 3BWhite Earth 4 home design by TD&CS

Last November, Travois Design & Construction Services (TD&CS) was invited to speak at the Greenbuild International Convention in Toronto. Casius Pealer, a principle of Oyster Tree Consulting, is involved in the development of affordable and green housing in the New Orleans area and was formerly the director of affordable housing at the U.S. Green Building Council. After being introduced to our work through a colleague, Mr. Pealer invited us to join the panel for the Greenbuild Convention.

Greenbuild is the world’s largest conference and expo dedicated to green building. According to the Greenbuild website, “thousands of building professionals from all over the world come together at Greenbuild for three days of outstanding educational sessions, renowned speakers, green building tours, special seminars and networking events.”

Our session, called “Rural Development,” focused on the opportunities for green building in some of the most remote and challenging locations in the country. We presented the White Earth Homes IV project of Waubun, Minn., as a successful example of green design in affordable housing, and the project was very well received by attendees and co-panelists.

The project, funded with Low Income Housing Tax Credits, is a passive solar design that exceeds state and International Energy Code requirements. The units are designed to accept photovoltaic panels and are constructed with high quality materials, green products and energy efficient systems.

It is interesting to note that while there are many challenges to building in rural and remote locations, there are plenty of opportunities. The Department of Energy has said: “American Indian land comprises 5 percent of the land area of the United States, but contains an estimated 10 percent of all energy reserves in the United States.” (Native American Energy and Self-Determination Act of 2003) Further, “The Department of energy estimates that wind resources on the Great Plains could meet 75 percent of the electricity demand for the contiguous 48 states.”

There are vast natural resources available in Indian Country and opportunities for economic and community development. This is particularly critical given that most residents living on tribal lands are paying a premium for utilities even when the median incomes in their area are well below those of surrounding areas or the national average.

If you are interested in learning more about renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies, I suggest you visit the website for the Department of Energy’s Tribal Energy Program.

We are always interested in learning about green building projects happening in Indian Country, please contact TD&CS if you’d like to discuss current or future projects.

Note: Greenbuild 2012 will be held Nov.14-16 in San Francisco. Visit this website for more information.

Greenbuild International Convention album