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Weekend edition February 23, 2024 | Tom Ballard

UT-Battelle makes $186,000 donation to SEEED

The funding will support the nonprofit's third green solar home.

UT-Battelle LLC, managing contractor for Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), has made a donation of $186,000 to Socially Equal Energy Efficient Development (SEEED) to support the nonprofit’s third green solar home.

The home, which is part of SEEED’s Green Construction Program, provides young adults with pathways out of poverty through career readiness training, environmental education, and community engagement. The 501(c)3 develops green solar homes that are sold below market value to low-income families, creating equity and giving them the opportunity to build generational wealth. Currently, two homes have been built, and SEEED seeks to construct about 10 more over the next three years.

“We are committed to serving the communities that we live in,” said Stephen Streiffer who serves as Chief Executive Officer of UT-Battelle and also Director of ORNL. “Our partnership with SEEED has provided a tremendous opportunity to share our scientific expertise, and we are excited that our support will help make this green solar home become a reality.”

Along with the monetary donation, researchers with ORNL’s Buildings and Transportation Science Division offered technical guidance towards developing best practices for green building design based on experience with the energy impact of building materials and equipment used in constructing the home – with the goal of reaching net-zero energy consumption.

SEEED will leverage ORNL’s expertise in the energy-efficient design of high-efficiency materials and equipment. The home’s design will include advanced techniques such as 2×6 framing combined with an insulated concrete form basement (a feature that will boost the amount of insulation), a solar panel system with battery storage, a high-efficiency heat pump water heater and HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system, low-energy LED lighting, and energy-efficient appliances.

ORNL scientists are participating in another SEEED project for better understanding of urban microclimate change, and they are lending time and expertise to development of SEEED’s Edible Forest Program, or EFP. The Edible Forest supplies fruit trees, vegetables and herbs to the community at the epicenter of a 2-mile radius food desert. The EFP hosts community events and a bootcamp for young adults, providing them with skills in sustainable agriculture.

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