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Climate change is real. Winds tearing through houses. Waves engulfing cities. Extreme temperatures in temperate climates. Whether climate change is man-induced or man-accelerated, mankind must deal with it.

At this moment, the fight against climate change is limited to a very small group of people and companies. Why? Because the majority can’t afford it. But climate change is everybody’s problem and the impact would be much bigger if everybody joined the fight. Three Dutch architecture students have recently formed The Motown Movement to do precisely this. The new movement wants to fight climate change by making sustainable housing accessible for everyone.

Creating More Accessible and Sustainable Housing

Research shows that 40% of the current CO2 emission comes from the built environment. The Motown Movement feels that companies should take responsibility for the next generation of buildings and make sure that buildings are more sustainable. The student-run team behind the Motown Movement researched the techniques that are needed for a sustainable building. They found that these techniques exist but are not widely used. Why not? The students conclude that it’s because the techniques are too high tech and too expensive. They decided to dedicate a year to developing and testing a new method: low-budget and do-it-yourself. Making it possible for everyone to make their house more sustainable. They envision that the technique should be applicable not only in newly built houses but should be flexible so that any house can be made sustainable. In their vision, building techniques should lower energy and water bills, automatically lowering the carbon footprint of the house.

The Motown Sustainable Housing Project

Improving Life with Sustainably

The Motown Movement is a non-profit based in Detroit to promote and test the student’s new technique. They are currently crowdfunding to build their first low-cost sustainable house in a beaten-up neighborhood of Detroit.

The Motown Movement’s approach to the climate change problem is unique. In their vision fighting climate change should be about improving your own life: lowering your energy and water bills, and sustaining the earth for the next generations. The students talked to Detroiters to learn what their direct needs were and thoughts on climate change. They learned that the problems Detroiters face are much more immediate than climate change. After all, why would you care about climate change if you have trouble keeping a roof over your head and getting food on the table?
To help give a solution to the problems Detroiters face, the students developed a unique approach to target everybody’s needs. They proposed that by making your house more sustainable will automatically lower your energy and water bill. This proposal appealed to every level of wealth, especially to Detroiters who risk losing their house if they cannot keep up with maintenance and tax costs.

‘Fighting climate change should be about improving your own life: lowering your energy and water bills, and sustaining the earth for the next generations.’

Methods Behind the Motown Movement

The students’ method incorporates solutions that start at free recycled material, 10-dollar material from the Home Depot, $50 appliances all the way up to solar panels costing $300 per panel. They explained to the Detroit community how using simple things like bubble wrap to insulate their windows in the winter, using old clothes or newspapers as insulation, and using PVC piping on their roof to preheat their warm water, will save them money on their energy bill.

They also explained methods that will help Detroiters save on their water bill. Their water saving solutions include, how to set up a water efficient toilet, by adding two bricks to the reservoir, installing a water saving showerhead, and turning off the tap as you brush your teeth. These savings can then be added onto the house as new products. Installing double-paned windows, just one window at a time, insulating the roof one square foot at a time, causing less heat loss in the winter, less warm-up in the summer, all adds up to a significant drop in water and energy costs.

The Motown Movement display their range of solutions on an interactive website where the cost, expected return and installation are displayed.

The Motown Sustainable Housing

Adding Sustainable Green Roofs

This July the city of Detroit is implementing a new property fee. Property owners are now charged for every square foot of impervious surface on their property because it discharges to the storm sewage system, which is hopelessly overused. The Motown Movement is researching how putting a green roof on the part of the roof that is not covered by solar panels can help lower this fee. The green roof absorbs rainwater and will not count as impervious surface. Therefore, the green roof will lower Detroit’s new property fee.

The Motown Movement is looking to change the way we fight climate change by making sustainability cost-effective. They are researching and coming up with new methods that allow anyone from an average Joe to a billionaire can invest and build a sustainable structure.

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