Dutch architect grads launch project to bring sustainable housing to Detroit

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From Holland to Motown, these architecture grads have a vision of fighting climate change by creating sustainable energy. They realized Detroit is the perfect place to achieve that goal.

"We heard in Detroit, heating bills can be higher than the rent," says Ronen Dan. "We thought we could create and share techniques that are low cost that you can do yourself."

That plan starts with an abandoned home at Rosa Parks and Ford streets.

"We bought the home for $1,000," said Dan. "In Holland, we cannot imagine buying a home this size for $1,000."

It might not look like much now, but by summer this dilapidated home will a central part of the community. The first floor will be used as a training center. There, experts will give a hands-on experience to people in the neighborhood on low-cost techniques to lower heating bills.

The basement will serve as a community resource room.

"Normally in situations now, people don't have internet access," said Bob Hendrikx. "They don't always have computers, so this could be a resource for them."

The upstairs unit will be rented out to a family who lost their home to foreclosure.

"We will monitor their use of bills," said Dan. "And we can say, look, they like it, it really lowers their bills, and you can do this too."

Here are just some of the ways the guys from the Motown Movement plan on transforming the home.

"First of all, we're going to insulate with cellulose, two layers blown in. We're going to have new windows, double glass windows, also some triple pane. So, we'll have different kinds of windows where people can see what types there are and different prices. And we're going to put a windmill on it, and solar panels," says Hendrikx.

It's not just the home that will transform. The vacant lot next store will become an urban garden that will be maintained by the nearby school.

"I think that's one of the qualities of Detroit, is that everybody is really participating and they're not leaning back but they're really willing to join the Motown Movement," says Hendrikx. "If this house works, we can do it with all the abandoned houses. And they don't have to be demolished, but we can transform them into self-sufficient homes."

If you would like to get involved with the project or learn more about it, visit www.themotownmovement.com.