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 A "Green" Home for a Twin Ports Family

umd volunteers

UMD volunteers on the night the walls went up: Cheryl Reitan, Tricia Bunten, Lori Stroik, Kristi Louis, and Brett Groehler.


An exterior shot of the home on day six. A similar picture appeared in the Duluth News Tribune on Aug. 11. No photos were permitted of the interior.


The wind generator is installed.

UMD Joins
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition

In July 2009, the ABC reality television series Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (EMHE) announced they were building a home to help a Twin Ports family. They needed volunteers. UMD faculty, staff, students and alumni stepped up to join hundreds of workers to finish a 2,300 sq. ft. home in less than 100 hours.

The TV series, which provides home renovations for deserving families, coordinates with a local construction contractor and the building trades for a makeover of a family's home. If the house is beyond repair, as in this case, it is replaced entirely.

The home's recipients were firefighter Howard Huber, his wife Jessica, and their two children from South Range, Wisc., just 19 miles from UMD's campus. The modest-sized, passive-solar house was designed with energy efficiency in mind. It has a super-insulated concrete slab, high-efficiency eight-inch thick panel walls, triple-glazed windows, and a wind turbine to generate electricity. A 6,000-pound heat sink and a thermal-storage wall behind its wood burning stove add to the energy savings. Recycling is one of the "green" features of the project. Reclaimed lumber was used, including redwood and red cedar from an old southern Californian military base and white pine salvaged from the former grain elevator in Superior, Wisc.

One of the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition project goals was to help the entire community. They set up a blood drive and a food drive at the building site. The Memorial Blood Center reported that 278 pints of blood were donated during the week. The Second Harvest Food Bank received 11,359 pounds of food.

The Huber family saw their new home for the first time on August 10. The EMHE segment on the Huber family is expected to air on ABC September 27, 2009.

UMD's Contributions

UMD Stores
UMD Stores donated a $50 gift card to the Huber family. "Extreme Makeover" volunteers put together a few "welcome" baskets with items and gift cards from the community to give to the family on Tuesday, August 11.

Environmental Health and Safety
The Master of Environmental Health and Safety program played a vital role in providing the required safety professionals for every shift. Todd Loushine, Assistant Professor in the MEHS program, coordinated the fully-staffed schedule for 2 safety professionals to be on-site 24 hours a day for 6 days. Loushine, with the help of MEHS instructor Wade Roseth, safety consultant Mike Nilsen, UMD Public Health Specialist Laura Lott and Enbridge Sr Safety Coordinator Cheryl Urie (all graduates of the program), filled every slot of the schedule. Loushine assessed the site Monday and sent the safety professionals comprehensive instructions and issued the following directive: Our goal is to keep safety awareness at a high level, help workers communicate with each other, keep the site clean, and get this project finished on time and in the safest manner possible.

Additional MEHS alumni who staffed the safety teams include: Scott Norman, Katie Schofield, John Primozich, Dustin Wilman, Tammy Tang, Luke Sammon, Jackie Sutherland, Jay Gieseke, Mike Levar, Lynn Dunbar, Doug Anderson, Andy Biondich, Caitlin Anderson, as well as current MEHS student Mike B Nilsen.

UMD's MEHS program ( prepares graduates for professional careers in environmental health and safety – encompassing occupational safety, industrial hygiene, ergonomics, risk management and environmental health.

Volunteer Coordination
Andrew Kimball, Environmental Health and Safety Technician served as one of the EMHE Volunteer Coordinators.

Andrew coordinated the volunteers on the overnight shift. He remained in constant communication with the EMHE production crew, fullfilling their requests for volunteers to be assigned to certain jobs, and to complete certain tasks. He was on the site for 72 hours over 5 days.

The work began about two weeks prior to the Door Knock Day, when Andrew and the other coordinators found and scheduled volunteers. On Door Knock Day, representatives from the TV program knock on a family's door to announce the home has been chosen for a makeover. Andrew and the rest of his team coordinated the efforts of 270 volunteers (skilled, and unskilled) per day to work on the site. Some of the people who just showed up to volunteer waited for 12 hours, overnight, before they were called. "The support and the charity of the businesses, and the individuals was amazing," Andrew said. "This is the largest volunteering effort I have ever been part of and it was an incredible experience."

General Labor Volunteers
John Ameel, NRRI (retired)
Tricia Bunten, Swenson College of Science and Engineering Development Officer
Melissa Carlson, Housing
Diane Dunder UMD Grad 1971
Lisa Erickson, Accountant, UMD Continuing Education (fundraising & clean-up w/a danceline team)
Brett Groehler, Photographer
Margie Helstrom, Office Supervisor, Continuing Education
Mary B Hennessy, Facilities Management, Information Technology Professional
Robin Lisdahl, Principle Office and Administrative Specialist, HPER
Kristi Louis, student
Ken Nelson UMD Grad 1971
Mary Beth Olsen, Facilities Management - Mailroom Support
Cheryl Reitan, Director of Marketing and Communication
Helen Sandwick, Exec Ofc & Admin Spec, Air Force ROTC
Megan Streveler, ATEP Clinical Education Coordinator, HPER
Lori Stroik, Researcher, University Relations and Development
Vicki Schneider, Health Services Administrative Director

Julie Anderson, 4th year pharmacy student, "Move That Bus"
Heather Lorenz, 4th year pharmacy student, "Move That Bus"
Carrie Sutherland, University Relations and Development, filmed a "We Want to Help" segment with the show's host, Ty Pennington

extreme1 extreme talent house
UMD's Mary Beth Olsen with UMD alumni Ken Nelson and Diane Dunder. EMHE cast Paige Hemmis and EMHE assistant production coordinator Josh Zilm. Sara and her mom, ROTC's Helen Sandwick
ex-lott ex-garden ladders
UMD's Andrew Kimball and Laura Lott. Landscaping near the front entry. Exterior trim.
ex-scaffold ex-crew landscape
The garage end of the house. UMD's Andrew Kimball (center) and the volunteer crew.  

Written by Cheryl Reitan

UMD home page editor, Cheryl Reitan,
NEW RELEASES, UMD media contact, Susan Latto,, 218-726-8830

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