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Students Bring Energy Efficiency to Low-Income Homes

Summer 2010 | Archives

Lowe's grant helps students practice skills while giving back to the community

"I'm eternally grateful," Amie Smith said. "There's no way I could have afforded that."

Amie Smith worried when her four great-grandchildren played on the rickety, backyard porch of her 40-year-old home. But the elderly North Omaha resident, who has osteoporosis and is recovering from recent knee replacement surgery, could not physically or economically complete the needed repairs.

Construction student Thanks to the help of dozens of MCC students, her home has changed both inside and out. Students in a green construction class conducted energy efficiency tests and installed insulation, weather stripping and caulking—improving energy conservation in the home six-fold. A team of Omaha Public Schools Career Center students replaced the dilapidated porch. Meanwhile, MCC Horticulture students worked with Smith to create a sustainable landscape around her home.

"I'm eternally grateful," Smith said. "There's no way I could have afforded that."

The weatherization and repairs are part of a $10,000 SkillsUSA Community Service Grant from Lowe's Charitable and Educational Foundation. Students worked at four low-income homes throughout Omaha, empowering residents to better track their energy use while learning skills relevant to the growing green energy industry. A partnership among MCC, Lowe's Companies, the Eastern Nebraska Office on Aging, SkillsUSA, Omaha Public Schools and the Green Omaha Coalition brought the project to fruition.

Construction student Dave Horst, Industrial and Commercial Trades Instructor, said projects like this provide an opportunity for students to put skills learned in classroom laboratories into practice.

"Too often we forget the community and how important it is for students to learn to give back to the community," he said.

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