Green buildings sprout in Indian country.

AuthorBlock, Ben

The walls of Elmer Bear Eagle's house are covered in mold. It began in the basement, then crept up the sides. Now it blocks the sunlight through the windows.


The problem is fairly common throughout the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in the U.S. state of South Dakota. Overcrowding--homes built for four people have held more than 20--contributes to high indoor humidity, creating a mold haven. Still, Bear Eagle is fortunate just to have a home; the tribal housing authority says 4,500 people, most of them Lakota Sioux, are waiting for subsidized housing on the reservation.

To provide housing, improve living conditions, and stimulate economic growth, many within the reservation are turning to green building. More home designers are encouraging plans that would ideally reduce heating and maintenance costs.

Pine Ridge's Sioux authority says they want to build green, but not if that means fewer homes would be provided. So instead of focusing their efforts on mainstream green building technologies, such as solar water heaters or more efficient windows, several organizations have introduced home designs that could cost less than traditional housing, including geodesic domes and natural material cob...

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