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University of Iowa News Release


Aug. 24, 2010

UI Law Clinic releases bi-lingual universal design and green home checklist

The University of Iowa College of Law’s Legal Clinic is putting to good use the lessons it has learned helping homebuilders, developers, local governments and nonprofits design and evaluate the benefits of sustainable homes and apartments.

The clinic has developed a universal design and green home checklist and survey and handbook for people who are interested in designing or remodeling a home that is environmentally friendly and accessible to all people.

"Our audience and market includes anyone interested in livable, energy-efficient homes and apartments that people of all ages and abilities can use, enjoy and adapt to suit their changing needs," said Leonard Sandler, clinical professor of law. "The goal is to promote independent living, safety, comfort, convenience and conservation of energy and natural resources."

The original materials have also been translated into Spanish for widespread circulation and use, he said.

The updated guide is being released now to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. That law does not apply to private homes, so Sandler and his students use the checklists to encourage consumers, industry officials and governments to adopt sustainable, barrier-free design practices and standards.

These materials, which are an outgrowth of clinic projects in Dubuque, Iowa City, Cedar Rapids and other cities and towns, have been incorporated into industry training programs and design textbooks and websites, and are being used in the U.S. and other countries.

The checklist recommends options and specifications for all parts of the house, including entryways, doors, hallways and rooms. It also makes suggestions for the kinds of small details that a developer might not otherwise think of, like motion sensor lights, no-step entrances, covered entryways, backlit doorbells, and higher and deeper toe kicks so it’s easier for residents and guests to maneuver in kitchens and bathrooms.

The checklist also identifies suggestions to make the house more environmentally friendly.

The Universal Design and Green Home Survey Checklist can be downloaded in English and Spanish language versions from the Law and Policy in Action website at

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

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