"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."
-CMU Freedom By Design
The Weatherization Kit Project was made possible by a large network of players who invested an incredible amount of time, effort, and resources to make it a success and to plant the seeds for a reoccurring project that could scale in impact over time. We were generously supported by Frost King through their donation of weatherization products, by NCARB and CMU School of Architecture through grant money to support the costs of the project, and by PROJECT RE_ which provided a space for the distribution event. The project was in partnership with the Kingsley Association, the Larimer Consensus Group, and the Build a Bridge Foundation which connected our project to 90 low income families in Pittsburgh over two years who would be able to benefit from receiving a kit.
Creation of the Boxes
With this support, we were able to design and fabricate boxes that would be able to house all of the weatherization supplies and transport the kit to the homes of the families who were receiving them. The boxes were designed to hold the selection of weatherization products and the booklets that detailed different ways to winterize a home. The boxes were then packed with all of the items and brought to PROJECT RE_ to be given to families during a distribution event.
The Distribution Event
The distribution and demonstration event has been held for two years at the Project RE_ community space. At these events, students demonstrate how to install the products in the kits and give the recipients a chance to practice all of the installations before they install the products in their homes. It is also an opportunity for the clients to ask questions in person, as well as sign up sheet for assistance home installations if need be. In the Fall of 2019, students distributed a total of 49 weatherization kits to the Larimer and East Liberty communities 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. Furthermore, we also helped to install the contents of the kits, bringing installation equipment needed (hacksaw, power drill, and hairdryer) for those who did not have them, and assisting those who reached out for help.