Milano student Jennifer Terry is putting her passion to work on this year’s Solar Decathlon. Hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy, this biennial competition challenges college students to design, build, and operate a solar-powered house on the National Mall. Under the team name Empowerhouse, The New School is one of 20 finalists this year. Because The New School rarely takes the traditional approach, the university is partnering with Stevens Institute of Technology, a premier engineering school in New Jersey; Habitat for Humanity of Washington, DC; and the DC Department of Housing and Community Development. This team will build a second house in the Deanwood neighborhood of the city, which together with the exhibition home will set a new standard for affordable, sustainable housing in Washington, DC and across the country.
Terry is a second-year student in the MS Nonprofit Management program and is concurrently pursuing a certificate in Sustainability Strategies. She is part of a team of Milano students who have been working closely with the DC Department of the Environment to change building code policy and make sustainable, affordable housing a reality in neighborhoods across the district. In addition, as a researcher in the Sustainable Urban Communities Research Lab, directed by Milano professor John Clinton, Terry is investigating how neighborhoods like Deanwood, as well as Boston’s Dudley Park and New York’s South Bronx, have become more empowered through sustainability initiatives and how these initiatives have improved the quality of life.
When I learned about the Solar Decathlon, I felt as though I was having one of those moments when everything becomes aligned,, said Terry about her experience. This was an opportunity to test ideas I had from past experiences and be able to share my passion in addressing sustainable and affordable housing.,
Affordable housing and community development have been a focal point in Terry’s career to date. As an undergraduate student at Georgia State University, she worked with the City of Atlanta to develop a communications strategy for their affordable housing campaign. In 2009, she worked with Rebuilding Together, a nationwide nonprofit organization that focuses on home repair for elderly and disabled low-income homeowners.
I believe one of the first steps toward empowering communities is ensuring adequate affordable housing,, said Terry. As you might imagine, it’s hard to be concerned about other issues a community might face if people are constantly worried about keeping a roof over their heads.,
Next, Terry is organizing a Town Hall meeting that will bring together students who have worked on Empowerhouse to share their experiences. They will talk about coursework that has made a significant impact on the project as it has evolved over the past two years. The event which is part of the Parsons festival will take place on May 19, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., at the Kellen auditorium in the Shelia C. Johnson Design Center, 2 West 13th Street and is open to all New School students, faculty and staff.
Effective leaders reflect on their past experiences as they make future decisions,, said Terry. Having this town hall will give us the opportunity to discuss this collaborative learning experience in a broader context, with respect to housing policy, sustainability initiatives, community engagement, and even the potential to inject positive social change.,