Habitat for Humanity Build Day

Lori Troxel, Vanderbilt University
Vanderbilt University, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Author Profile
Initial Publication Date: June 26, 2012 | Reviewed: July 21, 2015


The students spend one day at the Habitat for Humanity build site. The help with framing and other building aspects. Before they go to the site, they have a one hour discussion with the construction manager who discusses the energy efficiency aspects of the Habitat homes.

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Learning Goals

Students will learn about how construction can impact energy use. They will also learn how behavior can affect the efficiency of equipment. Students should be expected to write about the experience. Students can calculate how much material is used with different construction techniques. They can calculate the carbon footprint of materials. They can can calculate how much energy is saved by using Energy Star appliances, double glazed windows, and more insulation.

Context for Use

This project will work if you have a Habitat build in your city. You will need to have a lecture time to prepare them for the build. You will also need to have time in the course for them to spend a whole Saturday or Sunday on the site. You will need to provide transportation to the site.

Description and Teaching Materials

The only materials needed are for transporting to the site. Habitat provides all materials on the job site.

Teaching Notes and Tips

It is important to discuss the energy efficient aspects of the Habitat homes before going to the site. It is also important to require a written critique of the energy efficiency of the homes. You can have each student calculate the energy savings of one of the building techniques or appliances.


The assessment for this is through the writing. Students should discuss the different elements that go into making the home energy efficient. The accuracy of their calculations should also be checked.

References and Resources

For information on Energy Star Ratings:http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=products.pr_save_energy_at_home
For information about Habitat: http://www.habitat.org