Learn More about Aaron Resnick of Sulcata Homes

September 27th, 2019

Following the performances at Housing the Future 2.0, multiple local and national affordable housing organizations presented their innovative and effective approaches to design, material, and community engagement to create positive and impactful change. One of these select speakers was Aaron Resnick of inourhands.love.

As part of his passion for utilizing the tools of the 21st century to address climate change, Aaron co-founded InOurHands, a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to providing zero-down, zero-interest financing for marginalized communities to install renewable energy capacity. To date, the majority of InOurHands’ work has been on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. The unacceptable housing stock in many of the locations where Aaron has worked led him and his co-founders to develop the Sulcata Home, an energy efficient, inexpensive solution to provide quality, long term housing to those in need. The Sulcata Home was designed not only to be extremely energy efficient, but also to be affordable for individuals living well below the poverty line.

Aaron presented on his work at Pine Ridge and on his collaboration with The Interfaith Community Shelters of Santa Fe to evaluate the ways in which Sulcata Homes can be utilized to help alleviate the housing problem locally. His presentation was widely received by the audience, who were inspired by the innovative and bold approach to building affordable housing. We reached out to Aaron after his presentation to dive a little deeper into his work and inspiration.

Question 1:
Your housing innovation is largely based on sustainability in addition to affordability. What are some of the most unique aspects of your housing design that lend themselves to energy efficiency?

Besides advantageous aspects of the material we are using — which I detailed in the presentation — I think one easily overlooked aspect is that fact that our structure is monolithic, meaning it is all one piece.

In more traditional stick-frame construction, heat has the opportunity to escape around the studs in the wall. This decreases efficiency in both the summer and the winter. When a structure is all one piece, every square inch has the same thermal properties, eliminating this inefficiency. Savings result in both money and Carbon.

Question 2:
Your Sulcata Homes use the technology of foam cement to build quick, efficient housing. What are some other exciting new technologies that you have or would like to use to further develop your models? 

Foam cement is actually a relatively well known substance, but it has not yet been applied using our methodology. We have a number of innovations in the works that we hope will allow us to build tall structures for more urban areas and much wider structures for shop space, research space, and/or bulk storage applications.

Were always looking to improve on our materials and design, including looking at other foaming agents and new, more efficient ways to seal the exterior.
Other than our innovation, I think there are a number of exciting prospects out there.  3D printing of houses is a good example of one, they are relatively inexpensive and customizable. That said, they require complex machinery — supply chain issues will have to be worked out among other issues. Sulcata Homes on the other hand, are even less expensive, require less expertise, and most replacement parts are already available anywhere in the world.

Every innovation has it’s place, we just think the place for ours is everywhere!

Question 3:
What are some ways the Santa Fe community can support the ongoing work of inourhands.love

There are many ways. Santa Fe is a vibrant, creative community. As I said in the presentation, we’d love any and all ideas on how best to utilize a circular space. We think there is the possibility for a circular space to be much more attractive than a square.

Finally, tangible support is always most appreciated, be it land donations or monetary support.  We have some matching grant opportunities for anyone moved to support us financially. I’m always available at the above address.

Question 4:
Who do you think is doing the most innovative, interesting, disruptive work right now in the affordable housing field and why?
I mean… I have to say us — right?

The other presenters you brought in seem to be doing extremely admirable work on the education and financing side of things. It’s my hope that we’ll all collaborate in the future, applying innovative financial and education models to make Sulcata Homes even more accessible for everyone, the world over.