Making a Difference

Brian M. Davis and Matt Pelz

When Hurricane Ike battered the island of Galveston, Texas, in September 2008, the storm surge knocked an 1891 Gulf Coast Raised Cottage off its piers, tearing away the front porch and stairs. The city of Galveston slated the house for demolition, but upon realizing that the cottage was structurally sound, the Galveston Historical Foundation purchased it. The previous owners retained rights to the land, so the foundation decided to relocate the structure and turn it into a model of energy efficiency, blending old construction with state-of-the-art technologies. Now 17 blocks from its original site, the house boasts such green features as energy-efficient magnetic panels that protect the original windows, ecofriendly cellulose insulation, rainwater cisterns to hold and supply water for landscaping and household fixtures, and solar panels. Project coordinators Brian M. Davis (above, left) and Matt Pelz reused or recycled more than 90 percent of the house's original materials. At press time, they were waiting to see if their eight-month, $185,000 effort had achieved LEED for Homes platinum certification. As Davis, director of preservation and conservation services for the Galveston Historical Foundation, says, "We're here to show people that reusing a perfectly fine building that just needed a little help can be done."

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