A Social Entrepreneur Links Affordable Housing to the Green Economy

Battling back an ugly job market, a young architect turns a stint as a volunteer into a impact-focused green building business.

Shane Gring grew up playing with Legos and building tree forts; there was no question that he would study architecture when he arrived at college. But after he graduated in 2009, the collapse of the economy and the housing market left him without work. He signed up for a stint with Americorps, never imagining that what he saw as a career detour would spawn a new business combining his passion for architecture with affordable housing and sustainable building.

Americorps sent Gring to Boulder, Colorado to help Habitat for Humanity adopt LEED green building standards. The volunteer organization's commitment to those standards isn't just environmental; green buildings are cheaper over time and easier maintain, so what starts as affordable housing stays affordable. Gring earned his certification in building green homes and helped develop ways of making homes that used less water and energy out of safer and more sustainable building materials.

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