State College, PA - Centre County - Central Pennsylvania - Home of Penn State University

State College Land Trust seeks funds for green homes project

by on December 14, 2016 2:02 PM

BELLEFONTE — The words “affordable” and “technology” rarely appear together in the same sentence. However, a new initiative by the State College Land Trust, partnering with the State College Borough and Penn State University, could put both under one roof — literally.

On Dec. 13, at the regular meeting of the Centre County Board of Commissioners, Peg Hambrick and Ron Quinn, of the State College Land Trust, asked the commissioners for their support on the project, as well as for some funding to help it get under way.

According to Hambrick, the idea is to build a duplex home at 1394 University Drive — which will be loaded with innovative, energy-saving technologies — for moderate-income families, and then use this home as a model to "learn from" and use those strategies to build affordable, energy-efficient homes in the borough of State College.

Hambrick said the technologies that would be utilized in the homes were born from the minds of Penn State students.

"Low- and middle-class people are paying a greater percentage of their income for energy to heat their homes," said Hambrick. "We need to change that. If their homes are more energy-efficient, the more money they will save on heating bills. It's really that simple."

The duplex would be built on property already owned by SCLT, and would come with a price tag of about $500,000. The 1,400-sqaure-foot structure would hold two Land Trust families.

According to Hambrick, the median price-range for homes in State College is $275,000. She said these homes would come in at a cost of about $175,000.

"Cheaper, green housing is truly something that could be a reality in State College," said Hambrick. "If it's done right, it can be done. We have a contractor who can do it at the right price. We just need more funding to move ahead."

Hambrick said there are numerous advantages for the county should the project go forward as planned. She said the homes would reduce energy consumption, increase economic benefits through job creation and marketing development of the structures, increase home value and preserve affordability of the home.

"It will also act as a model for other state and federal programs," said Hambrick. "No one else is doing this."

Hambrick said the new home would be built through the GreenBuild Program and 90 percent of the necessary $500,000 is needed by Sunday, Jan. 15, for the project to go forward. She said State College Borough has already ponied up $150,000 for the project, and SCLT is expecting a large monetary commitment from another partner, West Penn Power. The group itself has raised about $100,000 for the project.

She said that leaves about $200,000 that needs to be raised, and asked the commissioners for a $25,000 allocation from Act 137 funding.

Commissioner Michael Pipe commended SCLT's efforts in the matter, but noted the request of $25,000 was the largest made for Act 137 funding, which is normally used to help first-time home buyers. He said he would feel more comfortable offering $15,000 for the project, which the other commissioners agreed was a more workable number.

The matter was tabled so the commissioners could look further into the proposal. It will be a topic on the agenda for next week's meeting.



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