Young designers, engineers, and nonprofit organizations are cooperating to build an orphanage out of recycled portable storage containers. Many Haitian orphans will get to live in the new dwelling, designed by RPI’s chapter of Engineers for a Sustainable World.
Engineering Solutions for Real Change
The collaborative project started when To Love a Child Nonprofit Organization contacted Engineers for a Sustainable World asking for help to build a better life for children and their families. To Love a Child is based in Clifton Park, NY. Engineers for a Sustainable World is a student-run organization at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. The group is avid about using engineer solutions to help social, economic, environmental problems with sustainable solutions. It is pretty amazing that To Love a Child Organization reached out to the student group in their community for help.
Recycled containers were an obvious solution to a sustainable, durable, and environmentally friendly building for the orphanage. Using storage containers is also cost effective. The project started out with a meager $100 budget, which grew to $10,000 after the student group worked hard at fundraising.
Engineers for Sustainability
Each student in RPI’s Engineers for a Sustainable World group put in more than 100 hours of work to design and build the orphanage. The orphanage buildings are thoroughly insulated to combat the hot Haitian weather. The student engineers used foam and plywood for installation. Reflective paint on the outer surface of the units further deflects the sun’s rays. There are fans and windows built into the housing. Large shade tarps fan out from the housing, which gives the Haitian children a cool area to play in.
Major Companies Helped in the Effort
General Electric supplied the Orphanage with solar panels on the roof. These panels generate some of the energy for the children living in the orphanage. The panels are another way that the student engineer group created a sustainable building. There is more benefit in using shipping units than just environmental: now the orphanage can be easily moved to another location if necessary. Many children in Haiti are benefiting from this ingenious work of bright young engineers.