Builder ties donations, education to green-construction project in Beaufort

September 1, 2010 

Brad Pitt is helping to bring affordable "green" housing to New Orleans. Leonardo DiCaprio made headlines when he bought an apartment in an eco-friendly building in New York City.

But Hollywood celebrities aren't the only ones putting environmentally conscious building concepts to use.

Gavigan Homes, part of the Spartan Group, showed off two homes under construction Wednesday in Live Oaks at Battery Creek.

Seventy green homes are planned for the Beaufort development, said Jennifer Clark, vice president of the Spartan Group. Gavigan Homes has agreed to donate $2,500 to a charity for each one it sells.

The first three groups to benefit from the pledge were recognized Wednesday -- the Student Training Empowerment Program at Bluffton High School, the Child Abuse Prevention Association and the Independence Fund, which helps veterans injured in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Gavigan Homes also plans to work with students in green-building programs at the Technical College of the Lowcountry by allowing them to visit and work on job sites as part of class projects.

The college is one of six Energy Efficient Training Centers in South Carolina and offers alternative-energy education and eco-friendly construction programs, said Everett Feight, dean of the TCL industrial technologies division.

"The students really want to get out and work and see, 'Can I do this?' " Feight said. "It validates everything they are learning in class."

The homes planned for Live Oaks will be built with energy efficiency, water conservation and affordability in mind, said David Abernathy of Gavigan Homes.

For example, he said the homes use structural insulated panels -- building panels with a foam core -- that improve insulation and energy efficiency.

Materials that have been recycled or previously used also will be incorporated, Abernathy said.

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