Students at the Academy of Construction and Design (ACAD) at IDEA Public Charter School in Northeast Washington, D.C., have built a mobile micro-house through a program with builders, reports the Washington Post's Michele Lerner. The project was the result of a collaboration between the school to provide hands-on training to the high school-aged teens in the District.

The micro house, which includes sustainable features such as bamboo flooring, energy-efficient windows and HardiePlank lap siding, as well as an Avanti Energy Star 30-inch-wide compact kitchen, will be sold this fall for an estimated $50,000 to $55,000, with proceeds reinvested into annual home-building projects that provide hands-on training and mentoring to students.

The students learned carpentry and construction math skills and had to use hand and power tools to measure and cut the lumber and decide how much to buy. They also had to learn safety techniques so they are prepared for safety certifications, requirements on job sites.

John McMahon, board president of the DC Students Construction Trades Foundation and chairman of Miller & Long, said the D.C. government’s mandate to push companies to hire District residents was at odds with the school system not preparing students for careers in construction, plumbing or electrical work. McMahon gathered industry and community leaders to establish ACAD in 2005, and he says 100 percent of the companies he contacted responded positively to the idea, including major firms such as JBG, Clark Construction, Hines Construction and Boston Properties.

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