An abandoned house near downtown Flint is being turned into an Urban Alternatives House (UAH), which will be used as both a classroom and laboratory to teach and explore better ideas for urban living. The UAH located at 519 Garland Street will provide an example of an energy efficient building that can be monitored and used to illustrate the functioning of energy generating devices, storm water management systems and landscape management.
University Outreach and the academic community at UM-Flint are partnering closely with the Genesee County Land Bank to rehabilitate the abandoned structure.In addition to the UAH, University Outreach and the Department of Earth and Resource Science have adopted the vacant lot immediately to the south of 519 Garland and will be working to clean and beautify it.
“This lot will become the urban garden that will be a classroom location within the community serving as a base for instruction, community projects and active participation in making the UAH complex a sustainable environment,” said UM-Flint Associate Professor Richard Hill-Rowley. “Special programs geared for K-12 students will be presented at the UAH. The focus of these programs will be on the science aspects of energy use and conservation. A premise behind these programs is the need to introduce ideas about climate change to these students and use the site to explore ideas of sustainability, walkable communities, and locally grown food.”
The Outreach component of the house will have a series of interrelated programs. A key feature will be use of the UAH as an example for green construction. Partners in the project, the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) and Genesee County Land Bank will have a model to illustrate green technology for local contractors. Costs and benefits of the range of energy efficiency techniques that have been employed will be shown. The house renovation will also be accomplished in manner that is compatible with local historic district standards.
The Urban Alternatives House represents a major initiative by the University of Michigan-Flint to reach out beyond campus into the Flint community. It will engage students and faculty in community issues and focus on one of the critical issues of the time – how to develop sustainable buildings and sustainable lifestyles in Flint.
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