CNM Students Build Cutting-Edge, Eco-Friendly House

Students from the Carpentry and Electrical Trades programs will be participating
April 06, 2021

Hammers will be swinging and saws buzzing for the next couple months as CNM students build a brand-new affordable and environmentally friendly house on Pacific Avenue in the Barelas neighborhood here in Albuquerque. The house is a joint project between CNM Ingenuity and Homewise, a New Mexico non-profit that supports affordable housing and community development.

“I’m really looking forward to driving by this house in the future and seeing a family living here,” says Michael Grier, a Carpentry student who was at the house last week building the frame. “I’m also thankful for the experience because I’ve already learned a lot.” 

As the house goes up, CNM students from the Carpentry and Electrical Trades programs will be on site to practice what they’ve learned. Students from ACE Leadership High School are also helping with the build through a partnership with Future Focused Education’s X3 Internship program.

“This project is a win-win because we’re creating affordable housing, using cutting-edge techniques to create an environmentally friendly build, and allowing students to get important real-world experience,” says Jeff DeBellis, a Senior Program Manager from CNM Ingenuity.

“Homewise is excited to be partnering with CNM on this building project,” says Carl Davis, the organization’s Community Development Construction Manager. “We see a great opportunity for the students to get real life building experience on a project that is incorporating green building best practices. This project will  have the dual benefit of creating a good professional training environment while simultaneously creating an affordable housing opportunity for a low to moderate homeowner.” 

The project is made possible through a generous grant from Lowe’s. Additional support has been received from PNM and the School of Applied Technologies’ National Science Foundation Grant #1601121.

Photo of student working on the  house.

To create a green build, CNM and Homewise reached out to Green Insight, an Albuquerque-based Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green rating consultant. LEED is an international standard for environmentally friendly builds and together the organizations planned out what will likely achieve a Platinum LEED rating (the highest rating available). Green features include:

  • Placement of the house in a walkable neighborhood.
  • Electric appliances, which improve indoor air quality, do not rely on fossil fuels, and can be run with a renewable energy photovoltaic system down the road.
  • The decision to exceed code requirements by adding extra insulation that cuts down on temperature swings inside the house.
  • Low flow fixtures inside the house and xeriscaping outside the house, both of which conserve water.

Lee Dutcher, the CNM Carpentry instructor overseeing students who’ve been framing the house, says it's invaluable for his students to get on-the-job training. 

“When these students graduate they’ll enter the industry with important experience,” he says. “Working on a real house is very different from practicing in the labs. Everything has to be spot on.”

The house is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2021. Once it’s sold, any profits from the house will go toward another building project so the process can continue.

“This is a beautiful example of community-based education where, in addition to getting credit and developing skills, students will have a very tangible impact on one of our city’s core neighborhoods,” Jeff says. “They can walk past in 10 years, 20 years, and say ‘I built that.’” 

For more information on the project, click here

Photo of construction students working on the house.