Keeping Eugene, Ore. Warm: LS&Co. Insulates Habitat for Humanity Homes

Levi Strauss & Co.
May 5, 2014

Here at Levi Strauss & Co., we love giving back and contributing to a more sustainable future. That’s why we’re proud to work with Habitat for Humanity, an organization that provides housing to people in need.

For the last two years, LS&Co. has supplied Habitat for Humanity with denim insulation for their houses as a gift-in-kind, providing a sustainable resource for H4H to incorporate in their house builds. In addition, LS&Co. employees are active volunteers at Habitat for Humanity, helping the organization construct their homes and install the denim insulation.

Unzipped spoke with Charles Castle, a Habitat for Humanity site supervisor working in Eugene, Ore., about his work in the organization and how LS&Co.’s denim is helping to keep Habitat houses warm:

UNZIPPED: What is your role at Habitat for Humanity?

CHARLES CASTLE: I’m actually a 4th year AmeriCorps member working through the affiliate here. I am the site supervisor, managing the builds of Habitat for Humanity houses.  I have varied skill sets from other jobs that I’ve had and construction experience that I’ve had, too.

Tell us about the role LS&Co. has had in working with Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity Springfield/Eugene here in central Oregon is a fairly small affiliate. We’re fortunate because we do have the Levi Strauss company office here in town. The company began providing insulation as a gift in kind to Habitat a couple of years ago, while at the same time, we started to have a closer relationship with the local Levi Strauss & Co. office, where employees come out and actually install the denim insulation in our Habitat Homes.

Denim-Insulation-Levi-StraussHow many employees work on installing the denim insulation?

Usually the groups are anywhere from 8-15 and they will install all of the wall insulation in just a matter of hours. But they have also come out on general workdays and participated in other aspects of house construction, which is always great.

In what ways does denim insulation help Habitat for Humanity?

The Habitat for Humanity mission is to provide decent, affordable, housing to low-income families, so any sponsors or gift-in-kind material that we can get is essential—and greatly appreciated. In partnering with companies, we can keep the cost of the homes down. It’s really a partnership between us and the community to get a house built for a qualifying family.

Can you tell us the difference between regular and denim insulation?

There’s no comparison: Denim is much nicer to work with. We still use masks, but because denim is safer to work with than fiberglass, it isn’t really necessary. Denim insulation is denser, so it fits in the framing base nicely. It’s basically just much, much easier install and it’s a recycled material, so we even get a lot of interest from our general volunteers. Habitat for Humanity also participates in home improvement workshops that are held in our community, so we get a lot of interest from those workshops in using the Levi Strauss denim insulation.

I retired from my previous career and I was looking to get involved in construction on a part-time basis, so I actually got my contractor’s license and I was referred to Habitat for Humanity. What really drew me to Habitat was even though I had a fair amount of experience as a framer and as a Contractor, I’d never actually built a house from the foundation up. I’m also a certified sustainable building advisor—I now know how to build efficient, green houses. I’ve been able to take that background and raise the bar for our local affiliate by bringing us up to energy star certification. Which means we were building tighter, more efficient houses that are easier to heat and cool. That’s been a lot of fun.
What do you love best about working at Habitat for Humanity?

What’s it like working with LS&Co. Employees?

They’re a great group of people—they continue to take more and more responsibility in their contribution to Habitat and we’re so happy to have that. And they’re so much fun to have on site. They’re willing to do just about anything.

How can people get involved with Habitat for Humanity?

There are affiliates in every state and probably in every major city and in a lot of smaller towns as well. I would encourage people to look for anyway to support Habitat for Humanity—whether it’s financially, or from a management point of view, they can always use leadership, not all volunteers need to be construction people—there are a lot of other roles that need to be filled.