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HUD   >   State Information   >   Alabama   >   Stories   >   2013-08-28
Young Innovators Seek to Build Sustainable Communities

Birmingham Mayor William Bell shows off his masonry skills in preparation for ribbon-cutting ceremony for LEED built home in Pratt City.

In the aftermath of the tornados of April 2011, Dick Forbes, CEO and President of Innovative Home Builders, looked at the tragic destruction in the Pratt City neighborhood and saw opportunity. He thought, "What if all of the destroyed homes were rebuilt wind -resistant and to LEED standards?" He moved to do that, seeking the aid of HUD Neighborhood Stabilization Program and Community Development Block Grant Program funding. Forbes embarked on his mission to build twenty LEED certified homes in the Pratt City, the first of which was recently completed. Birmingham Mayor William Bell attended the ribbon cutting for the first completed home. Birmingham HUD Field Office Director Michael German was honored to tour that home during a subsequent visit.

Founded in July 2009, Innovative Home Builders was created with dreams of building homes and neighborhoods that are affordable, attractive, and environmentally viable in their Birmingham community. Today, it specializes in building energy efficient homes for moderate income families. Their goal is to build homes with net zero energy usage. They do this by combining energy efficient building methods with renewable energy mechanical systems that annually returns as much energy to the utility as the home uses, resulting in net zero energy consumption. Some of the energy saving features are:

Photovoltaic Solar Panels
Tankless water heaters
Energy Star Rated Appliances
Structural Insulated Panels
Energy Efficient Windows

Using these and other energy efficient construction techniques, purchasers of the homes see lower utility bills and lower overall operating and maintenance costs. This advantage, in turn, makes the mortgage payment sustainable for the new homeowner because less household income is spent on utility payments. Additionally, the community benefits from the reduced consumption by conserving the vital, finite resources of energy and water.

The team is well aware that building and sustaining a community means more than constructing new buildings. There must also be a commitment to help the people in the community build sustainable lives. In that respect, the company also provides extensive job training and job opportunities for residents of the communities in which they work. After touring the first new home Michael German stated, "HUD is proud to be a partner with Innovative Home Builders because they create neighborhoods of opportunity and they care about providing homes for people-not just houses."