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Alum Takes Lead in Sustainable Homebuilding

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A construction company owned by Aaron and Melinda Yoder, both ’01 grads, took a top award in 2012 for building a single-family home in an environmentally friendly manner in Virginia.

AM Yoder & Co. Inc. garnered honors in Virginia’s third annual Sustainable Leadership competition for a home built for retired language professor Carroll Yoder and his wife Nancy.

This two-level, 2,300-square-foot house, at 1322 Greystone St. in Harrisonburg, Va., was built with Styrofoam-covered concrete blocks that yield energy-conserving walls. Three solar panels on the roof provide most of the hot water needed for the heat that radiates from water-filled tubes in the floor and for washing. The house was oriented to permit passive solar heating, shaded in the summer.

“We really like our house—it is very quiet because we have thick walls and no moving hot air,” says Carroll. “Our son (Joel ’97) is now using Aaron to build his house.”

Harrisonburg architect Randy Seitz, class of ’87, commends Aaron for his interest in building “well-crafted, modest-sized houses in existing neighborhoods, rather than another McMansion on former farmland.”

Aaron has been a leader in promoting EarthCraft-certified construction in Virginia since 2006. EarthCraft began in Atlanta, Ga., in 1999 and has been spreading across the nation. From its website:

EarthCraft House certifications are determined through a points-based worksheet, which allows builders to select the sustainability measures that are best suited for their project. Worksheet items address proper site planning, energy-efficient appliances and lighting, resource-efficient building materials, indoor air quality, water conservation and homebuyer education, and all are verified during site visits and inspections.

Aaron says that EarthCraft Virginia has certified over 1,600 homes and 7,000 multifamily dwelling units to date.

In 2008, Aaron led the Shenandoah Valley Builders Association to form a green-building committee. In 2010, this committee launched the first annual Green Expo in Harrisonburg. This event, now at its third year, is expected to fill the gym area of Eastern Mennonite University’s “Commons” with booths, exhibits, demonstrations and workshops on green building when the expo is held on Nov. 10, 2012, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

In 2011, a large green-certified home in a development on the edge of Harrisonburg by A.M Yoder & Co. took top prizes from the Shenandoah Valley Builders Association for best overall, best interior and best exterior.

Melinda Joy Yoder, who majored in social work at EMU, runs the company’s office operations, as well as contributes to the design of the company’s showcase homes. The Yoders have two children.

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