LAFAYETTE — Over the next five years, vacant lots in Lafayette neighborhoods will be revitalized by the “green” home designs of University of Louisiana at Lafayette architecture students.
“The goal of it is to build sustainable houses as a renewal project for neglected areas of Lafayette,” said Graham Goodyear, student project leader.
The effort is financed by the Lafayette Public Trust Financing Authority as a part of a neighborhood infill initiative.
Construction of architecture graduate students’ first design — the “Event House” — will begin soon at 500 Madison St. near downtown Lafayette.
The house will be sold at a listing price of $153,000 with the proceeds directed toward the construction of the next home.
The goal is to build a new home every year, said Geoff Gjertson, ULL associate professor of architecture and design.
The project fits with the Lafayette Public Trust Financing Authority’s mission to support projects that benefit the community, said John Arceneaux, chairman of the Lafayette Public Trust Financing Authority.
He said the “seed” for the infill project was the success of ULL School of Architecture’s BeauSoleil Solar Home — which won first place in market viability in a 2009 international collegiate design-build competition of affordable, sustainable and energy-efficient homes.
The idea was to take the BeauSoleil concept to Lafayette’s inner city to help revitalize neighborhoods, Arceneaux said.
“We’re using this as an investment opportunity for the community,” Arceneaux said.
With the BeauSoleil project, students were able to prove that sustainable design is both “affordable and livable,” said Gjertson during a groundbreaking ceremony Friday.
The first build project is called the Event House and features 1,250 square feet of living space with an additional 550 square feet of covered porches.
Goodyear said the home will be constructed with sustainable and renewable materials like corrugated metal and cypress wood siding. Polyurethane foam insulation and an electric heating and air conditioning plenum system will also be used to help reduce energy costs. The home will also feature a 690-watt solar panel array system with expansion capability.
The features should minimize maintenance and energy costs and earn the house a National Green Building Standard Rating, Gjertson said.
“The Event House is designed to be sustainable while at the same time affordable. It is green on a budget,” Gjertson said.
The project is a collaboration between the Lafayette Public Trust Financing Authority, the university, Ragin’ Cajun Facilities — a nonprofit third-party group organized to facilitate ULL construction projects — and Arceneaux Construction Group.
The initial cooperative endeavor agreement between the financing authority and Ragin’ Cajun Facilities is for five years — with an extension option — and financing up to $400,000, John Arceneaux explained.
Proceeds from the sale of the home will pay down the loan and also act as seed money for future projects, said Gjertson.
The goal is to build a house annually with a new class of first-year graduate students working on a new design each fall, he added.
The project offers students valuable experience working alongside contractors to see how well their concepts meld with reality at a construction site. Goodyear and a corps of students will be on site daily assisting with the project.
“A lot of our projects have been fantasy and we haven’t seen anything built,” Goodyear said. “When you get on site, details in the design are going to be figured out more extensively.”
The learning opportunity that the experience offers students prompted Jeremy Arceneaux, owner of Arceneaux Construction Group and a graduate of the ULL architecture program, to donate his time and services to the build.
“I want to give back,” he said.