Professor has big plans for improving small house

(The photo shows the house that will be retrofitted as it looked last winter. By January of 2012, Shaurette and his team plan to have it expanded and more energy efficient -- a showcase for the Vinton neighborhood in Lafayette. Courtesy photo) Mark Shaurette, assistant professor of building construction management, will assist the City of Lafayette in a “deep-energy retrofit” of a foreclosed home this fall. Located in the Vinton neighborhood, which had already been selected for revitalization, the home will become an example of the possibilities of transforming an existing structure into a more energy-efficient one. “I’m really interested in doing the research, providing guidance for the city, and creating education programs that are tied into the retrofit activities,” Shaurette said. “How do people find out about it? How do you get them interested? We decided to take this house and sort of go to the extremes with it.” Some energy programs focus on tightening the structure so it doesn’t lose energy. This project will focus more on bigger ideas and technologies. For example, the house faces south, so it is a perfect candidate for solar panels and some passive heating through front windows, according to Shaurette. Having the solar panels on the home will make it stand out more, he said, which can help in educating consumers about that option. He hopes to use the home to educate contractors as well. “We really need to build a contractor infrastructure that understands the retrofit process and improves the house. If you look at our society, there is much more opportunity for a contractor to be involved in existing structures than in green build or new construction,” Shaurette said. “We’re guiding the process with energy audits before and after the work and experimenting with some techniques that we could use in future retrofits.” The team working on the home hopes to have the retrofit complete and ready for viewing in early January, when people are thinking most about the amount of their electricity bills. In addition to the retrofit work, the city plans to expand the home, adding a bathroom, bedroom and garage. Read the Lafayette Journal and Courier article about the home and revitalization program.