Building on Tradition: Indigenous Green Housing

University of Massachusetts - Lowell, 2009 - $44,625

This grant addresses the issue of designing and developing environmentally and culturally appropriate housing for Native Americans on reservations. Many people living on reservations have no electricity or running water, and use outhouses. Typical development approaches ignore their traditional housing practices (separate structures for cooking and sleeping) and are not welcomed by residents.

In collaboration with the Tohono O’odham Reservation in Arizona and Tohono O'odham Community College (TOCC), University of Massachusetts Lowell students have been designing and prototyping green housing innovations for several years. They have designed a modular green house made up of the three traditional separate structures (living/sleeping, kitchen, and bathroom modules). The house is made primarily with indigenous materials but also incorporates green building strategies such as passive solar cooling and heating, solar hot water, straw bale insulation, solar cookers, windmill water pumping, composting toilets, and more.

This grant extends the collaboration to develop business plans for an enterprise based around the technologies, as well as further designing and prototyping.