In Pittsburgh 66% of working families make the choice between paying for living expenses or paying for utilities. When the house you are renting is poorly maintained and you can’t afford to make the repairs, much of the heat you are paying for will go out the window. Simple initiatives such as caulking and weatherstripping your home can reduce infiltration rates by 20% which can amount to significant savings on utilities, and reducing the need to make tough choices about which bills to pay. We assembled weatherizing kits in partnership with Frost King for people in need from the Larimer community in Pittsburgh. These kits are both addressing a need for information on how to perform these energy and cost-saving initiatives, as well as providing the materials necessary to do so.
The fabricated box provides materials and instructions for Pittsburgh residents. Door sweeps, window plastic, weatherstripping, and electrical socket insulation are included in the kit and are labeled to match the descriptions and instructions within this booklet. The booklet was written, illustrated, and compiled by students, and acts a resource for people who were were not able to initially give boxes to.
The distribution and demonstration event has been held for two years at the Project RE_ community space in mid-November. At these events, students demonstrate how to install the products in the kits and give the recipients a risk-free attempt at the installations before they install the products in their homes. This is an opportunity for the clients to ask questions in person, and we have a sign-up sheet for assistance home installations.
In the fall of 2019, students distributed a total of 49 weatherization kits to the Larimer community in partnership with the Larimer Consensus Group and the Kingsley Association and to refugee families in Pittsburgh in collaboration with the Build-A-Bridge Foundation. Further, we helped install the contents of the kits, bringing installation equipment needed (hacksaw, power drill, and hairdryer) for those who did not have them, assisting those who reached out for help.
LONG TERM GOALS
This is not a project that will solve the problem at a large scale, but it aims to provide a solution for the immediate season and provide access to easily digested information on what longer term solutions residents could pursue, should they become a homeowner or be moving in the future. This is intended to be the beginning of an annual initiative for our chapter allowing new members to Freedom by Design and have a lasting relationship with communities in Pittsburgh. In doing this every year, we develop a sustained relationship and presence within the community which is critical if we want to pursue other larger scale build projects in the future.
For a deep dive into the weeds on this project please refer to our Documentation Booklet.