LEXINGTON, Ky. (Jan. 2, 2013) — In partnership with the Southern Tier Housing Corporation and Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation (KHIC), University of Kentucky College of Design will receive a $504,000 grant from the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet as part of the TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) Environmental Mitigation Grants Program. The funding will help advance research in the Houseboat to Energy Efficient Residences (HBEER) project, which provides low-cost, energy efficient housing options to Kentuckians.
The College of Design's portion of this grant, $300,000, will fund a research professor for three years and will enable the college to advance UK's HBEER modular housing research.
In addition, the grant will fund construction of four new energy efficient, factory-built structures equipped with photovoltaic generation systems to be installed in the Kentucky TVA service area.
This grant was made possible by a 2011 settlement agreement between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the TVA. The settlement is a result from alleged violations of the Clean Air Act that requires TVA to invest in new and upgraded state-of-the-art pollution controls that will reduce pollution, save energy and protect public health and the environment. More information on the settlement can be found at http://www.epa.gov.
As part of the settlement, Kentucky is receiving $11.2 million over a five-year period to implement environmental mitigation projects.
HBEER is a partnership between the UK College of Design, the Center for Applied Energy Research at UK, KHIC and the Kentucky Housing Corporation (KHC). The multi-year project was initiated in the fall of 2009 and directly responds to the impact the current economic downturn has had on the houseboat manufacturing industry in the Commonwealth. As part of the partnership, more than 50 students and faculty at the UK School of Architecture were responsible for researching and developing initial models of energy-efficient, affordable housing that could be produced by the region's houseboat manufacturers.
HBEER is creating green jobs and bringing back to work some of the 575 skilled workers and 1,000 related jobs that were lost in the houseboat manufacturing and marine industries due to the economy.
Two buyers completed the steps to qualify for affordable, permanent financing on the first two HBEER prototypes built by Stardust Cruisers and placed in Monticello and Goldbug, Ky., in early 2012.
Highlights of the HBEER project include:
Prototypes with estimated energy costs of one-half to one-sixth of energy bills for other housing alternatives.
More than 80 percent of the prototype homes' value derived from products made in Kentucky and Kentucky labor, further increasing the jobs created or saved.
When the partnership began in 2009, Stardust Cruisers had 12 full-time employees and 12 contract workers. As of January 2012, Stardust had 56 full-time employees, including six who are dedicated to the HBEER project. As a result of this project, Stardust also improved the energy efficiency of its houseboats and is one of the few houseboat manufacturers exporting new products.
The next phases of the HBEER project includes a prototype for multifamily housing, as well as classroom space for schools as an energy efficient and more durable alternative to portable classrooms.