Spotlight on Alex Doleac

 "Why follow a trail when you can blaze your own?"

  • Concentration Areas

Architectural Engineering Technology, Psychology, Religion 

 

  • Senior Capstone Project

GREENING NON-PROFIT HOME CONSTRUCTION: An Analysis of Habitat for Humanity in Mississippi

"Mississippi has been identified by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the US Census Bureau as the state withone of the highest poverty rates (approximately 24.2% population living below poverty line in 2012) and unemployment rates (approximately 9% in 2013). Poverty affects the housing quality, which in turn, can affect the physical, psychological, and emotional health of the occupants. Residents in the state experiencing inadequate housing conditions create urgency within the Non-Profit Organizations (NPO) sector.
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    "Voluntary support offered by NPO such as Habitat for Humanity (HFHI) serves to aid populations experiencing inadequate housing conditions. Given the need to create adequate quality housing for a segment of the population in the state, it can be probable that green building strategies and long-term concerns for the environmental impacts of a project falls low on the list of NPO priorities. In other words, if the triple bottom line is made-up of social, economic, and environmental factors, there is a probability that a NPO could prioritize social and economic factors above environmental, due to multiple factors.

    "For this study, chapters of HFHI in the state of Mississippi were purposely selected as the unit of analysis, within the NPO sector. HFHI was selected as it is one of the leading non-profit housing suppliers for the state and the nation. After initial investigation, it was found that HFHI had 36 chapters and only 2 out of 36 chapters (about 6%) were able to provide green housing.

    "Thus this research aims to identify the reasons associated with lower level of adoption and implementation of green projects by HFHI chapters and then further ascertained if any parallels could be drawn between the reasons identified and the factors identified in the literature. In addition, the research also aims to identify the green technologies/strategies that are routinized consistently in green residential projects. A project was considered green, for this research, if it was LEED certified. The selection of LEED certification as a measure for a project greenness was based on its wide use within the industry.

    "This research utilized a combination of qualitative and quantitative research. The first phase, qualitative in nature, involved the identification of factors associated with adoption of innovation from literature followed by the interview(s) of the HFHI chapters to ascertain why certain HFHI choose to adopt green projects whereas the others choose not to do so. In this process, the aim is to identify factors that play an important role in the process of adoption for green projects completed by NPO.

    "The second phase utilized quantitative research method and involved identifying green strategies/technologies which were routinized by the chapters that had adopted green projects. Routinization for this study has been defined as “when technology/strategy has been implemented consistently on green residential projects and has lost its own identity.” Thus by the end of the phase a comprehensive list of routinized technologies/strategies would be identified. Thus, the results of this study will enable other NPO’s to successfully blend environmental initiatives into their existing priorities." 

 
  • Why Interdisciplinary Studies Is the Degree for Me 

"Throughout my college career, I have struggled to fit the "boxes" of the world of academia. Even prior to my college days, I was never someone who fit one particular box in one particular way. For most people, a Division I tennis player who works part-time with a church youth group while doing freelance engagement and wedding photography as well as being involved in Student Government on campus, simply does not make sense.

"For a while, I think I took on that viewpoint: that I simply don't make sense. I have so many interests and skill sets that don't seem to translate well into the box of different academic modules. However, when I stumbled upon the Interdisciplinary Studies Program at Southern Miss, I found a meeting place for all those interests to come together for one consolidated academic purpose. The IDS program is made for people who don't fit the box of one particular discipline, and by using a person's different talents and interests, IDS students solve real problems by using all those talents and interests as tools and resources in the research process. I am a multi-faceted person with many different areas of academic and non-academic interests. Why should my major be any different than me? With IDS, it doesn't have to be. I found a major that fits me because I craft it according to my skills, experience, and interests. Why follow a trail when you can blaze your own?"