CEE Sustainable Design & Construction Graduate Students Form Kit Switch Group to Promote Adaptive Reuse for Affordable Housing
Kit Switch is a group of all-female Stanford graduate engineers and architects which includes Armelle Coutant, Alexandra Diabre, Anusha Krishnamurthy, Candice Delamarre and Samantha Liu, from the Sustainable Design and Construction Program. They are mission-driven, value community engagement and align themselves with social justice initiatives to create diverse and thriving mixed-use and mixed-income communities. Their women-led team, interdisciplinary backgrounds, and shared passion sets them apart. The team has domain expertise in the built environment, sustainability and leveraging digital tools for industrialized construction.
Eighty percent of the buildings that will exist in 2050 have already been built. In the U.S., where retail and office value has been declining, it is important to think through not only building anew, but also sustainably reusing what we have. This is an exciting time for Kit Switch to meet the housing demand within the U.S., as it specializes in the adaptive reuse of underutilized commercial buildings into affordable housing through integrated design services and an off-site manufactured kit of parts.
Kit Switch offers an energy efficient, prefabricated interior kit-of-parts for property owners to convert their underutilized commercial buildings into sustainable and affordable housing units. Their unique offering in terms of energy efficiency, affordability, and time and cost-effective conversions make them an ideal fit when compared to traditional general contractors. By leveraging and converting existing infrastructural resources they realize a significant reduction in energy consumption, waste, costs, time and CO2 emissions associated with demolition and ground-up construction processes. With their services, property owners of commercial real estate will have a stable source of income and approximately 12% return on investment, the public will have more affordable housing options, and cities will have a seamless and cost-effective, long-term solution for affordable housing.
Kit Switch originated from the Stanford Venture Creation for the Real Economy course in Spring 2020, during which their common interests brought them together. Since then, the team has leveraged core courses from the SDC program to validate their value offering. They carried out a production system optimization on the on-site assembly process by leveraging the Managing Fabrication & Construction course. Kit Switch was also a project sponsor in the Life Cycle Assessment course during which they compared traditional built walls to prefabricated wall panels. Kit Switch innovation analysis has shown to be 5 times cheaper and 1.2 times lesser in CO2 emissions when compared to traditional wall construction. Besides, its assembly process is particularly quick with 10 housing units installed in less than a week. After winning the Hack-a-House competition hosted by Ivory Innovations and being awarded the 2020-2021 Stanford TomKat Innovation Transfer Grant for Energy Efficiency, they have enough funds to begin prototyping their product and developing a proof of concept.